Those That Mattered is a moving, deeply felt novel about a world that most people encounter only on the eleven o'clock news in the wake of a disaster, and about a woman fighting for respect and opportunity in one of the least hospitable places on earth.
It is the story of Portia Crowe, granddaughter, daughter, and sister of coal miners, who returns from college to her West Virginia home, her emotional and physical touchstone. Trapped in a marriage as hopeless as much of the life around her, she takes advantage of federal government pressure and the advice of a drifter - "Where's the money at in these hills, hon? Mining. Then that's where to go." Portia, ostracized by her family and her community, becomes one of the first female members of the United Mine Workers. The years she spends in the mines are poisoned by coal dust, by danger, and by the merciless harassment of male miners, but are finally redeemed by the bonds that unite people who work together in constant danger. Those That Mattered is the story of the complex relationship between miners and the Earth, between the union and the company, and between men and women, written by one of the first women to go into the Appalachian coal mines.