Friday 23 March 2018

The Mountain Story

The Mountain Story
The Mountain Story
By Lori Lansens

I love survival stories and Lori Lansens’ The Mountain Story doesn’t disappoint.

At 18 years of age, Wolf Truly has faced many challenges in his life.  His mother died when he was very young, and his father, Frankie, is a drinker, a gambler, and not much of a dad.  After losing a close friend, Wolf decides to end his life by jumping off a cliff at the top of his favourite mountain.

Leading up to this point, Wolf has spent much of his time hiking the mountain trails.  He and his best friend, Byrd, a boy with the same birthday, have a strong connection to each other and to the mountain.

On this fateful day, Wolf takes the tram to the top of the mountain.  As he hikes toward his doom, he comes across three women: Nola, Bridget and Vonn Devine.  The women are searching for Secret Lake, one of Wolf’s favourite spots, but they’ve lost their way.  After some cajoling, they convince Wolf to guide them to the lake.  But when Bridget leaves the trail and a fog rolls in, all four of them find themselves hopelessly lost.

What follows is five days of foraging for food, water and shelter, while Nola suffers dreadfully with an infected wound.  The four must battle the elements and the animals, and after falling down a steep hill, they spend copious amounts of energy trying to climb back up.  But as these hikers deteriorate physically and mentally, they grow ever closer.  The Devines are able to heal some old family wounds, all the while drawing Wolf into their circle.

The harrowing mountain tale is peppered with snippets of Wolf’s life.  From his mother’s death, to his father’s womanizing, to the trailer he now lives in with his Aunt Kricket and legions of her children and grandchildren, his life is as agonizing as his desperate five days on the mountain.

This is contrasted with Wolf’s relationship with Byrd: their immediate connection, and Wolf’s acceptance by Byrd’s family.  When Byrd suffers a life-altering accident, Wolf is pushed to his breaking point.

There is more to this novel than tragedy, however.  The will to fight against all odds and the instinct to protect loved ones eventually supplant Wolf’s desire to kill himself.  Ultimately, this is a novel of hope.

Monday 5 March 2018



By Fredrik Backman

Beartown is a small town with big dreams. Fredrik Backman takes us into this small community nestled amongst the trees, with a heavier storyline than his usual lighthearted, humorous fiction; maybe that’s because there’s so much riding on the outcome of this tale. Regardless, I was quickly drawn in and I could not put it down, reading it in a day. 

For generations, Beartown has been a hockey town; the old ice rink is still there nestled among the trees, a stark reminder of what the town once was. As the town struggles with a fading economy, the junior hockey team is preparing for the game of their lives- the semi-finals that they actually have a chance at winning. A win will put Beartown back on the map, the factory will re-open, the workers will be re-hired, tourism will increase, people will stop in Beartown instead of passing through. All it will take is for the team to win.

With so much riding on one game, tensions are running high and it is affecting everyone. The board of directors are making hiring and firing decisions, the general manager is consumed and distracted by the game, parents face off against each other, and everything rests on the shoulders of the teenage boys who will win or lose, save or condemn their town.

Will Benji, Kevin, Amat and the others get their chance?  

This is a story about emotions; hope, loss, jealousy, anger, longing, they’re all in there. These feelings can get in the way of decisions that need to be made and should be made, and how the little town that could copes with tragedy in the midst of the biggest game of their lives. 

For fans of Backman’s other Swedish novels, A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises and Britt Marie Was Here, among others, Beartown will not disappoint. This is a story that raises questions that are not easy to answer and make you think about what you would do, if it was you.