As the story begins, Ashley Knox, a magazine writer, and Ben Payne, a surgeon, are about to be stranded in Salt Lake City as all flights are being shut down by a massive storm system. Ashley is desperate to get home for her wedding, while Ben has surgeries to perform. Given the situation, the only option left to them is to charter a private flight around the line of growing storms. The plan is to fly to Denver while there is still the possibility of making it home.
Mid-flight to Denver, their pilot has a heart attack and makes a crash landing in one of the most remote and rugged areas of the country (the High Uintas Wilderness of Utah). To make matters worse, a flight plan was not required, so no one knows the whereabouts of these three passengers (or even that Ashley and Ben got on that plane).
Now, with their pilot dead, and Ashley seriously injured, Ben must figure out a way to keep both of them alive. Stranded at a very high elevation in the midst of winter storms, without food or other necessary provisions, the odds are not good for them to make it. Without hope of a search and rescue operation, their bleak situation will cause both Ashley and Ben to reflect on the things that matter most in life. During their odyssey of searching for a way to survive, both will discover what it means to truly live and love.
There are many things I liked about this book. First, I must admit that I am really into wilderness survival stories. There is just something about rising up above your circumstances, no matter how bleak, that speaks to me. Nobody survives a devastating accident without being changed in critical ways. It is the story of that transformation that greatly appeals to me. I think, too, that it is impossible not to insert yourself into the situation to reflect on how you would handle things, or be changed by such life-altering circumstances. One of the things I enjoyed most about the story is how Ben uses the few things available to him in a MacGyver fashion. It was interesting to see how he came up with creative solutions to daunting challenges. In a life-or-death situation, I would want Ben Payne by my side.
I appreciate how author Charles Martin tells a story. He makes me care about his characters and they become real to me. Though this book has been newly released as a movie, I'm glad I chose to read the book first. The reviews for The Mountain Between Us, in book form, are much better than those for the movie. It seems that many moviegoers felt a disconnect between the two leading actors. That is so different from what you will experience about the connection between Ashley and Ben in the book. The two become very bonded, though neither character violates any promises made to spouse or fiance during their time together in the wilderness.
This is a good book to read during the holiday season. It reminds us that love conquers all and that we can each climb and cross any mountain that rises up in our lives.
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