East of the Mountains

With everything that’s going on in the world right now, I first want to send my fervent prayers that everyone is staying safe and healthy. COVID-19 is scary, especially for folks, like me, who are in the susceptible age group. I wish you all healthy environments!

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The March reading challenge was a book with a nature word in it. For that, I dug through my to-be-read pile and found East of the Mountains, by David Guterson. This is the same author who wrote Snow Falling on Cedars. I realized I haven’t read that one, either. Or seen the movie. After reading this one, I may well pick Snow Falling on Cedars up.

EastoftheMountains

What It’s About:

When he discovers that he has terminal cancer, retired heart surgeon Ben Givens refuses to simply sit back and wait. Instead he takes his two beloved dogs and goes on a last hunt, determined to end his life on his own terms. But as the people he meets and the memories over which he lingers remind him of the mystery of life’s endurance, his trek into the American West becomes much more than a final journey.

My thoughts:

I read the jacket – this story is about a dying man’s final journey. I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it, but I’m glad I did. First, it’s an intimate look at the thoughts of someone dealing with a difficult diagnosis. Recollections of his life, including picking apples in the orchards of Eastern Washington and his time overseas in the war. The joy of meeting his wife. The despair that loss brings.

But there was also hope in this story. People who help him on his journey, both with time and wise words. When it ended, I smiled.  It was poignant, at times starkly human, and, well, it is an in depth look at the resiliency of humans under duress.

So it’s a recommend from me, but it’s also not for the faint of heart. Still, a smile touches my face as I think of it, so take that as you will.

Stay safe and healthy, everyone!

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