|The Mountain Story|
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.