A suspenseful story, The Tempering is woven around Karl and his two friends Jame and Andy. The jealousy, suspicion, and ethnic tensions in a small town are realistically depicted where the fear of losing jobs, the fear of losing life and limb in mill accidents, and the fear of the towns wealthy bosses are as real as the smoke-clogged skies. Young readers will also learn of bad working conditions and poor wages in the pre-union working world of the early twentieth-century, as well as the love, kinship, and neighborhood decency forged amidst these conditions.
The Tempering encourages further study in Pennsylvania history, labor relations, and immigration. Though the steel mills of Duquesne were leveled in the 1980s, young readers will gain an understanding of how strength and spirit created and sustained a community of people who lived, worked, and died with the making of steel.
The summer of 1911 is a decisive one for three young men in a Pennsylvania steel town as they find and lose jobs, fall in love, and begin to shape their adult lives.