Now Available from Grand Central Publishing

Secret Wisdom cover

“A page turner”
— The New York Times Book Review (read the full review)

“A marvelous debut…I hated to put it down.”
— John Grisham

“Soaring…an adrenaline-pumping climax written in taut, propulsive prose.”
— USA Today (read the full review)

“Marvelous…big hearted.”
— Chicago Tribune (Editor’s Choice) (read the full review)

“A virtuoso combination of uplift and heartbreak. Writing careers don’t begin any more promising than this.”
— Christian Science Monitor (read the full review)

“A powerful epic of people and place, loss and love, reconciliation and redemption.”
— Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review) (read the full review)

“Pulse quickening…poignant…beguiling…in prose as biting as Pops’ sour mash whiskey.”
— O Magazine, January 2015 (read the full review)

“People sometimes talk about the elusive ‘Great American Novel’ This might be it.”
— Mary Ellen Wood, Schuler Books & Music (Okemos, MI)

“…Scotton produces a masterpiece.”
— Shelf Awareness (read the full review)

“Scotton can stand proudly among Harper Lee, Leif Enger, John Knowles, John Irving and Mark Twain…a classic for our time.”
—Dan Radovich, Barnes & Noble (Naperville, IL)

“…Scotton is a natural story teller…The Secret Wisdom of the Earth delivers.”
—The Washington Post (read the full review)

“…simultaneously frightening and beautiful.”
—Publisher’s Weekly (read the full review)

“Warm, brilliant intense, wonderful…”
—Jake Reiss, Alabama Booksmith (Birmingham, AL)

“Riveting…perfect for book clubs, airplanes, or on a night you don’t want any sleep.”
—Sarah Bagby, Watermark Books & Café (Wichita, KS)

“…beautiful and emotionally captivating.”
—Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books (Mystic, CT)

“Remarkable…compelling and heartbreaking.”
—Adrian Newell, Warwick’s (La Jolla, CA)

“…reads like a classic from page one.”
—Janet Geddis, Avid Bookshop (Athens, GA)

“…pure joy to read and savor.”
—Nancy Simpson-Brice, Book Vault (Oskaloosa, IA)

“A hauntingly beautiful story…”
—Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop (Southern Pines, NC)

“Bravo, Mr. Scotton, your gorgeous novel will be an instant classic.”
—Kathy Ashton, The King’s English Bookshop (Salt Lake City, UT)

“Make this your first read of the 2015!”
—Anne Holman, The King’s English (Salt Lake City, UT)

“…addictive, atmospheric, and engulfing.”
—Julia Sinn, Bookshop Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA)

“…reads less like a debut and more like a classic.”
—Melissa Schirmer, Joseph-Beth Booksellers (Cincinnati, OH)

“…keeps you turning the pages long into the night.”
—Bill Carl, The Booksellers on Fountain Square (Cincinnati, OH)

“…a redemptive story not to be missed.”
—Karen West, Book Passage (Corte Madera, CA)

“…this book is a classic in the making.”
—Sue Boucher, Cottage Book Shop (Glen Arbor, MI)

“…an epic novel, sophisticated and beautifully told…”
—Calvin Crosby, Book Passage (Corte Madera, CA)

— Susan McCluskey, Bookshop Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA)

“… a remarkable addition to our literary heritage.”
—Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore (Spokane, WA)

“What a stunning debut novel!”
—Lori Fazio, R.J. Julia Booksellers (Madison, CT)

“A perfect book club pick!”
—Shawn Donley, Powell’s Books (Portland, OR)

“…a real barn-burner of a debut novel… heavy, real, visceral, and ultimately transcendent.”
—Jeremy Hawkins, Flyleaf Books (Chapel Hill, NC)

“The best book I’ve read all year.”
—Joyce Platfoot, Haverford Township Free Library (Havertown, PA)

More praise for Secret Wisdom here…


After witnessing the death of his younger brother in a terrible home accident, 14-year-old Kevin and his grieving mother are sent for the summer to live with Kevin’s grandfather. In this peeled-paint coal town deep in Appalachia, Kevin quickly falls in with a half-wild hollow kid named Buzzy Fink who schools him in the mysteries and magnificence of the woods. The events of this fateful summer will affect the entire town of Medgar, Kentucky.

Medgar is beset by a massive Mountaintop Removal operation that is blowing up the hills and back filling the hollows. Kevin’s grandfather and others in town attempt to rally the citizens against the ‘company’ and its powerful owner to stop the plunder of their mountain heritage. When Buzzy witnesses the brutal murder of the opposition leader, a sequence is set in play which tests Buzzy and Kevin to their absolute limits in an epic struggle for survival in the Kentucky mountains.

Redemptive and emotionally resonant, The Secret Wisdom of the Earth is narrated by an adult protagonist looking back on the summer when he sloughed the coverings of a boy and took his first faltering steps to manhood. It is a novel that challenges the reader to consider the complicated economic choices facing the rural poor

In the vein of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, The Secret Wisdom of the Earth succeeds in being more than a story about a boy or the remote communities of the American heartland. It’s a novel about the human heart and its deeply held mysteries.



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