The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens
|The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens|
|Reviewer: Luke Marlowe|
|Summary: A thrilling book that takes a look at overcoming obstacles – both physical and mental. A solid read, that moves and engages despite occasionally verging on the melodramatic side of things.|
|Buy? YES||Borrow? YES|
|Pages: 320||Date: May 2015|
|Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK|
|External links: Author's website|
Wolf’s mother is dead. His father is inept at best, a dead beat at worst. Wolf’s one joy in life is his best friend, Byrd. The two frequently escape their homes and hike up a nearby mountain, revelling in the freedom and closeness to nature. But Byrd dies, and a year later, on the date of his 18th birthday, Wolf decides to kill himself – heading up to the same mountain where he spent so much time happy. However, Wolf soon meets three women – Bridget, Nola and Vonn. Lost on the mountain, they will spend days fighting to survive and to escape the wilderness. One will not make it down alive.
As someone who loves the great outdoors – I was rather drawn to this novel, given that I enjoy hiking as often as I can (which, living in London is unfortunately rather infrequently). I’m also a great believer in walking as a form of therapy – I’m pretty certain that the rolling Lincolnshire Wolds helped me a huge amount as a teenager, and I still think walks are the best way to gain perspective and a clear head on many issues. The Mountain Story is a slightly more extreme version of that, given that Wolf originally goes up the mountain in order to kill himself, but is nevertheless an intriguing look at how being alone with nature can aid reflection, rehabilitation, and inspire a primal urge to survive.
Given that the whole tale is told from the adult Wolf’s perspective, writing a letter to his college-aged son, we are never in any doubt that Wolf survives. However, we know from the outset that the mountain is a treacherous place, and the blurb suggests that one or more will die - the story is consequently incredibly tense as a result. This isn’t completely a novel about nature though. In fact, the main theme is that of human survival, and our ability to overcome the odds, no matter what life is throwing in our faces. At times the writing tends towards the melodramatic, but thankfully Wolf, Bridget, Nola and Vonn are all three dimensional, and have interesting stories that are worth reading – sometimes funny, sometimes sad. So engaging, in fact that they occasionally distract from the reality that these characters are trapped on a mountain edge, allowing a brief respite for the reader’s nerves.
One thing I liked was the focus on the internal struggles of these characters – the mountain and the hiking almost fall away in various parts, and instead we are treated to intelligent emotional and psychological insights into the characters. The vague depiction of the mountain leaves the reader free to picture any wild space they are familiar with, somehow making the connection to the characters stronger, and the book more intimate as a result.
An intelligent page turner, author Lori Lansens has created a great read – I’d be happy to return to the life of Wolf again. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.
For further reading, The Mountain Can Wait by Sarah Leipciger covers very similar ground to The Mountain Story, as both books are set in the wilderness and focus heavily on the nature of humanity. And both are very good reads indeed.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens at Amazon.com.
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