The Great American Road Trip
Book: The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
My favorite part of Utah is the Southern area, particularly the southwest, which has the most spectacular collection of scenery you’ll see anywhere in the United States, with the exception of Arizona’s Grand Canyon. Ken and I took a western road trip including these spots in both 2004 and 2008.
The Mountain Between Us: A Novel covers the far northern part of Utah, where some mountains have been set aside for what some say is the best skiing in the United States; and where hundreds of miles of other mountains are designated wilderness. In Charles Martin‘s book, a small plane crashes in the High Unitas Wilderness. The pilot dead, the two passengers, who started out as strangers, and the pilot’s dog, struggle with survival for 29 days. Winter weather, broken bones, a flight that no one knows about, a smashed signalling device, all these things make their odds look dim indeed. And this, you say, is supposed to make me want to take a road trip to Utah? Yes, I think the descriptions of the wilderness may make some readers long to go hiking in these beautiful mountains. Less active travelers can imagine what it is like to drive north from Salt Lake City and see the mountains towering all across the sky.
Fortunately in this story the male passenger is an emergency room doctor and both man and woman, in their 30’s, are in excellent physical shape. She was on her way to her wedding. He is expected to perform three surgeries back home in Florida, when their commercial flight gets snowed in, so they take a chance with this small charter plane.
Charles Martin has a distinctive voice that is easy to read and he keeps our attention riveted as he relates every detail of the fight for survival. Those pesky details sometimes caused problems for me. I believe I saw some of what in cinematic terms are called “continuity problems.” You know, they’re out of lighter fluid in one scene, and flick their Bic in the next. That sort of thing. Although the thing that kept me turning the pages was the “how are they going to survive?” question, this is not just an adventure. The novel tells four love stories really, if you count the brief look we get at the pilot’s life.
I might as well tell you right now, the first six of Martin’s novels were published by what is classified as a “faith-based” publisher. Now don’t stop reading–unless as one blog I saw recently said–you think (reading about) Christians will give you cooties. The novel’s themes of hope, love and loyalty are certainly not exclusively Christian, and there is no mention of religion. But there were times when I felt the story was just a bit TOO pure and wholesome to be totally believable. (This is a romance novel with no heaving bosoms and no burning glances.)
It is a rarity to find a male author’s voice behind what is basically a romance novel. Nevertheless there were some distinctly male p.o.v.s that made me draw back a bit. He consistently came to the rescue with his oh-so masculine skills like archery and starting a fire with a bow and stick. She was helpless and he was responsible for their safety–although she is a strong woman, and he is humble about his heroic actions. The guy works hard to overcome his ‘strong but silent’ syndrome, but still the romance lacks the physical warmth and emotional empathy that a more feminine romance would give us in a hero. Actually those are quibbles, because I DID read straight through and I did enjoy the humor and some of the interesting twists and turns. This is a fun read, but , I wouldn’t recommend it for the airplane. Those things are scary enough.
You can read lots more about Charles Martin at his web site, and follow his frequently updated blog. You can also follow him on Facebook if you are less cynical than I am about the hordes of adoring fans.
Have you ever heard of or read a book that is particularly romantic written by a man? Isn’t that interesting? Why do we have a category of books called “faith based?” And who is going to play the roles in the movie? This novel, got me thinking about a lot of things like that. So let’s talk.
Sorry if the photo at the top misled you, but I just wanted to share it because I love Bryce Canyon. Plus, I’ve never crashed in the High Unitas. It is my photo. Don’t reuse without permission, please. Links to the book will take you to Amazon. You need to know that if you buy something after using that link, A Traveler’s Library benefits, but it doesn’t cost you any extra.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, American Readers. I’m thankful that I am able to take a road trip to Utah most any time I want, and VERY thankful that I’ve never had a plane crash in the High Unitas. Also read:
And, as always, a little musical accompaniment suggested by Kerry Dexter at Music Road.