Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Book Review: The Mountain Between Us

While scanning audio books recently, I came across this survival/love story, The Mountain Between Us, by Charles Martin. The author's name looked familiar and when I checked my blog, I discovered that one of my first posts, at the outset of blogging, was a book review of Martin's When Crickets Cry. I quickly became engrossed in the tale of Dr. Ben Payne and Ashley Knox, two unregistered passengers on a charter plane attempting to beat an oncoming storm. Just before their pilot dies of a heart attack, he manages to safely land the plane on the mountains in the High Uintas Wilderness of Utah. Ben is in bad shape, with broken ribs, but Ashley is worse off, with a badly fractured leg.

Throughout their harrowing journey, attempting to return to civilization, Ben continues to record messages for his wife, Rachel, on a small recording device. Ashley, listening to Ben pour out the love in his heart, begins to wonder whether she is merely settling for convenience in her upcoming marriage to her fiance. What's more, the longer Ben takes care of her, the more she wonders whether she is, in fact, falling in love with him instead. But, Ben holds many secrets and is clearly running from a conflicted past.

I felt a similar response to both Martin's books. The reader is asked to take giant leaps and often they seem unreasonable. The main character/narrator is too perfect and has everything he needs exactly when he needs it. When the conclusion played out, despite enjoying the deep emotions triggered by the writing (the mark of a true craftsman), I found myself talking back to the narrator, questioning the plausibility of the way things went. Despite this, I really enjoyed the ending. I wept as the truth was revealed. I felt the full range of brokenness and despair along with the surging of hope in the power of love.

When an author can evoke such intense emotions in a reader, I can overlook a bit of over-the-top plotting. Part of me felt tricked, but a larger part of me felt a sense of deep connection. I enjoyed the bumpy ride and will happily suspend my disbelief for Martin's stories again (especially so because they always provide a clean read or a listen I can enjoy with my boys in range). Moreover, it is supposed to be made into a major motion picture sometime soon, starring Kate Winslet. I have to admit, I will probably seek out the movie.

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