Saturday, March 09, 2013
Book Review ~ The Mountain Between Us
"The Mountain Between Us" by Charles Martin
Dr. Ben Payne is in Salt Lake City for a doctor's conference and is eager to get back home as he has lots of surgeries in his schedule the next day. While waiting in the airport he meets another passenger eager to get home too. Ashley Knox is on her way east to be married that weekend. Both are finishing up things related to work while they wait to board their plane and strike up a conversation. But when flights are cancelled to a storm coming in and a broken plane deicer, Ben seeks out a charter flight to get him to Denver so he can catch a connecting flight. Finding a pilot willing and able to take him, he asks if the plane could fit one more. Thinking of Ashley and her wedding, Ben offers to share the charter and Ashley accepts. When the storm blows in the little plane gets blown about a hundred miles off course, but the aging 72 year old pilot is confident in his abilities as a pilot to get them safely where they are headed. That is until he suffers a heart attack in the air. Though he manages to crash the plane as safely as possible, saving the lives of Ben and Ashley, he passes away. Now Ben and Ashley and the pilot's dog are in a fight for their lives, in dire circumstances with absolutely no one knowing where they are and being stranded in one of the remotest and most unforgiving areas of the U.S., the High Uintas Wilderness. No one will be coming to rescue them and now it falls to Ben to get himself and Ashley, who has suffered a bad leg fracture back to civilization alive. Through this experience, Ben keeps himself very private, even while recording his thoughts and feelings into a hand held recorder for his wife. In the recording, we are given a look into him and his wife's love story even while it is revealed that they are separated. So there is a double meaning to the mountain that lies between. As Ashley struggles to try to feel useful she sees in Ben and his love for his wife that her own relationship is lacking and that she might be settling just to be married. And she wonders how a couple so in love can be separated, but Ben will not open up about that. As their lives hang in the balance on a moment to moment basis, and the days turn to weeks, they both need to dig deep to survive.
I loved this story. It drew me in right from the beginning with their hard struggle to survive. It was definitely a page turner that kept me with my nose in the book, reading of their struggles and how they met each challenge and decision. But if that wasn't enough to keep you in the story, there was such an emotional element to it. Ben's "notes" to his wife and his privacy about talking about her to Ashley created an air of mystery, his strong commitment and instinct to get Ashley out of there alive and his having to face things that occurred throughout his life were all things in the story that just grabbed at my heart. Both Ben and Ashley's character development was so captivating to me, I found it hard to put the book down. I felt like I was really getting to know them both. You knew they would never get out unchanged, that is if they ever did make it out. And whether they would both make it out alive was something that you wondered right to the end. Some have said it was quite convenient that Ben just happened to be an orthopedic surgeon and a hiker, but I personally didn't let that affect what I took from the story. Yes it is a story of survival but it is just as much a story of love, regret, of giving and receiving forgiveness, of letting go and of hope. Just when I had it settled inside me how the story will end, there is a twist that I totally did not see coming. Heartbreaking and yet beautiful. It's been days since I finished the book but it is still in my mind and heart and I haven't yet been able to pick up my next read.