Honors Program

University Honors

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Scott Honeycutt

Thesis Professor Department

Literature and Language

Thesis Reader(s)

Kevin E. O'Donnell


Mountaintop removal is an issue that has plagued Appalachia as companies harvest coal from the mountains and cause consequent environmental and community effects. By focusing on three contemporary young adult novels that feature mountaintop removal, correlations between the novels and the real environmental and community effects can be drawn. The novels examined include: Saving Wonder by Mary Knight (2016), Dig Too Deep by Amy Allgeyer (2016), and The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton (2015). Mountaintop removal is a devastating and invasive process, and the costs on the land and people are irreversible as landscapes are drastically altered, water faces pollution, and communities suffer from health issues and mining accidents. Through the problems presented in the novels and their accurate descriptions of the mountaintop removal process, the fictional stories help prove that young adult literature has a purpose, teaches lessons, takes positions on controversial environmental issues, promotes critical thinking, and helps readers better understand their world. Therefore, if these novels can impart knowledge to readers about an environmental process and its consequences, it follows that other young adult novel can hold similar lessons for readers.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Withheld

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
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