"The American Wake" is a creative thesis written in the form of a novella. The story follows the lives of a fictional Irish immigrant family in 1912 as they leave their homeland in search of a better life. The family settles in a coal-mining town in rural West Virginia, searching for a way to fit within the strict societal structure of the American South. Irish traditions begin to merge with Appalachian folk music, creating a fragile new aesthetic that can bypass racial prejudices and bring the impoverished coal mining hollow together.
However, life in America is not quite as golden as it appears, and soon the family finds themselves caught in the midst of a brewing struggle between fellow miners and coal bosses. When a mine explosion rocks the community, the Irish family is forced to choose a side in the coming war, risking everything in a country that is not their own.