A multigenerational, multicultural story, Yellowcake introduces us to two unforgettable families — one Navajo, one Anglo — some thirty years after the closing of the uranium mill near where they once made their homes. When young Becky Atcitty shows up on the Mahoneys' doorstep all grown up, the past comes crashing in on Ryland and his lively family. Becky, the daughter of one of the Navajo mill workers Ryland had supervised, is now involved with a group seeking damages for those harmed by the radioactive dust that contaminated their world. But Ryland wants no part of dredging up their past — or acknowledging his future. When his wife joins the cause, the messy, modern lives of these eclectic individuals collide once again, testing their mettle, stretching their faith, and reconnecting past and present in unexpected new ways. Yellowcake is a moving story of how everyday people sort their way through life, with all its hidden hazards.
Ann gives an overview of the book:
Sometimes he dreams he is there. In the heat of the crusher room, midafternoon when the shift was new. On a swingshift afternoon in the uranium mill, sunlight bored hard through the smeared windows in the room where the crushers split yellow ore for the yellowcake they made. At a certain angle, in the heat of the day, golden dust filled the air above the conveyor belts, and entering the room was like entering an oven. You didn't want to go in. You didn't want to begin. Once there, though, the heat took you. You got the rhythm of the place. The clickety-click of the bearings in the conveyor belts, the steady pounding of the crushers grinding rock to bits, dust the texture of chalk. Mouth and nose coated. Entering the mill when the heat-seared walls and ceiling began to sweat was exhilarating, like moving hard into a fast, hot wind.
Born in the southern Rocky Mountain town of Durango, Colorado, Ann Cummins writes frequently about working class people. During the early part of the 20th century, her family migrated from County Galway, Ireland to Colorado, where they mined silver, coal, and uranium. When...