The coalfields of northern New Mexico are the setting for the remembrances of six-year-old Matias Montano, a fictionalized version of the author's life in the last years of World War II. Garcia writes about ordinary coal-mining people as they struggle to make a living and raise families, and about their heroism, joy for living, and their belief in the value of education, hard work, and the American Dream.
For Matias, his brothers, friends, and the adults in their lives, the poor living conditions did not interfere with their adventures and activities, which included collecting scrap iron, picking chokecherries, tracking deer, hunting rattlesnakes, and riding hand cars down the railroad tracks. This book presents a fresh and richly textured view of life in a mining town from the Hispanic viewpoint but includes folklore and stories told by the town's many other ethnic groups, among them Italian, Slavic, and Greek immigrants and African Americans, all working together in support of the war effort and in search of better lives.
Coal Camp Days: A Boy's Remembrance