What they say: A troubled, young widow hikes from Yosemite Valley deep into the wilderness on the John Muir Trail to elude her shameful past in this emotionally gripping story from the author of House Broken.
With her thirtieth birthday looming, Liz Kroft is heading for the hills—literally. Her emotional baggage weighs her down more than her backpack, but a three-week trek promises the solitude she craves—at least until her boyfriend, Dante, decides to tag along. His broad moral streak makes the prospect of confessing her sins more difficult, but as much as she fears his judgment, she fears losing him more. Maybe.
They set off together alone under blue skies, but it’s not long before storms threaten and two strange brothers appear along the trail. Amid the jagged, towering peaks, Liz must decide whether to admit her mistakes and confront her fears, or face the trail, the brothers and her future alone.
The review: First off thanks to Netgalley for the advance copy in return for an honest review. Where to start? The beautiful cover is one place, and I did think it very beautiful, it jumped off the page for me. As an aside, for some reason the blurb doesn’t do it for me, but I suppose it is a difficult feat, because for me this book is so hard to categorize that I feel like the blurb is trying to catch a multitude of readers, where it needn’t, the book is THAT good.
I loved this book. The more I think about it now, the higher in my esteem it climbs, and I only wish I had the paperback, because I think a paperback version would suit this. First the main characters, Liz and Dante. Both strong characters that fulfilled their duties brilliantly, she as the strong independent trekker who is on a mission to trek this grueling journey, he as the understanding boyfriend, who is there solely as her partner. From the start the banter between the two of them was perfect. Her sporadic irritation was seamlessly integrated with guilt that she had caused him to do something he had no interest in. This simmered nicely as she tried to guide him, smacking against his shock at the grueling nature of their journey, and the absence of beer or tv at their stopping points. Their dialogue was vibrant , smart and funny and I felt both of their pain. The story took us daily through the trail and I was there, the starkness of some of the scenery, coupled with the beauty of more of it, making it come alive. Added to all of this was the author’s obvious knowledge of climbing, as the minute details added to the experience and taught me so much about the area they were traversing, the equipment required, and endless facts on the what to do/ what not to do in excursions of this nature.
The story was punctuated by Liz’s back story, that of her and her dead husband, Gabriel. This was dealt with in flashbacks aided by the build-up of stress brought on by a monumental secret she was keeping from Dante. The introduction of other characters was well done, as we climbed, hiked and stumbled along with the pair. We encountered some helpful climbers, an actor there solely for research and the very odd Root brothers, a pair that added to tension I started to feel as it hit home that where they were there was nowhere to run. I had only two problems with the book. One was that at times Liz could seem a little over dramatic, not in her problems, which were substantial, more her way of expressing them. The other were said Root brothers, who I found to be slightly cartoon-like at times, this took away slightly from the tone of the book, though not much.
To finish I will add simply that the bookclub questions at the end of the book were a lovely addition and served only to validate my opinion on the book. Brilliant.