Five Days. Four Hikers. Three Survivors. The tease on this book cover is irresistible. Canadian author Lori Lansens’ latest book is a cracking good read. Four hikers are stranded on a California mountain. The survival story is harrowing but not the kind where they eat one another…so far I’ve been able to avoid those types. Wilfred (Wolf) narrates this suspenseful novel, telling the story to his son. So we know that Wolf is one of the survivors, which is ironic because his purpose for climbing the mountain was actually to end his own life. Buckle in folks, you are going to need a rainy weekend or a few sick days for this one!
The story is well crafted, redemptive and kept me going to the very end. I might have enjoyed some more character development of the three other hikers, they seemed a bit two-dimensional beside Wolf who we learn a lot about. But I couldn’t put the book down. I must say it gripped me from the start right through to the end with no let up whatsoever.
Lansens not only gives us a compelling story to be immersed in, there is also an undercurrent of respect and awe for nature in this book. We enjoy things like hiking because we enjoy the physicality and rigour, but also because being a part of nature can somehow speak to us. It helps us to reflect on our lives and our place in the world. “The climb speaks to our character, the view speaks to our souls.” But nature is not to be toyed with, it can be challenging and perilous in equal parts to its beauty.
Lansens has three other books, only one of which I have read, but it is one I would also highly recommend. The Girls is an amazing intimate story of conjoined twins Rose and Ruby. I will never forget the opening paragraph of The Girls, which is narrated by the sisters:
“I have never looked into my sisters eyes. I have never bathed alone. I have never stood in the grass at night and raised my arms to the beguiling moon. I’ve never used an airplane bathroom. Or worn a hat. Or been kissed like that. I’ve never driven a car. Or slept through the night. Never a private talk. Or a solo walk. I’ve never climbed a tree. Or faded into a crowd. So many things I’ve never done, but oh, how I’ve been loved. And, if such things were to be, I’d live a thousand lives as me, to be loved so exponentially.”