Though the Earth Gives Way

Mark S. Johnson

Mark Johnson tells a timeless tale of the struggle to find truth in belief, faith in fact, and friendship in times of fear. It is a new survival story, one that takes place post-climate apocalypse where our main character, Elon, thirty-seven, alone, hungry, and desperate to hear just another voice, is determined to discover what is next for a world sunken and on fire. When Elon discovers a hidden retreat deep in the woods of Northern Michigan, he soon finds himself on the verge of regeneration, as a pack of loners band together amidst a society turned hostile and an environment turned violent. No longer must he travel alone with his shopping cart, his jug of gasoline, and rotten crabapples. Now, he has the chance to rediscover friendship and intimacy. Johnson’s novel asks the question—what would it take to start over?—and readers walk away from Elon’s story pondering their own responsibility to the climate-challenged world outside their own front yards. The chapters read like campfire tales, and Johnson’s lyrical voice heightens Elon’s perceptions of shame, guilt, and accountability. The setting of this treacherous world creates an intriguing backdrop as each night the new residents of the Kenneally Retreat Center slowly reveal stories from their lives before. These stories are admissions of guilt, secrets, failures, and grief, and they challenge our ability to forgive. Johnson uses the art of story-telling to critique the categorizing nature of the American identity.