The Mountain Can Wait by Sarah Leipciger

Rating: ★★★★☆

Tom Berry is close to achieving his dream of buying a little cabin out in the Canadian wilderness where he can live off the land, hunting and foraging for much of what he needs.  He runs a small forestry business, and thinks that another season, two at the most, will be enough to enable him to sell the business and fund his dream.

A single parent; he has been forced to raise his children, Curtis and Erin, alone, after their mother walked out when they were young.  He has approached parenting in the same practical manner with which he tackles all others aspects of his life.  And now they are adults, he feels that he has done well by them.  That is, until Curtis is involved in a tragic accident, and goes on the run, not knowing where to turn…

The main theme running throughout The Mountain Can Wait is that of the sometimes difficult relationship between a parent and child, and the misunderstandings that may occur.

that was Tom Berry all over; practical, emotionless, maybe even a little bit ruthless.

Tom comes across as being an extremely practical, competent individual who wasn’t entirely prepared for fatherhood, and certainly didn’t expect to have to raise his children alone.  Curtis finds it extremely difficult to connect with his father, who he sees as cold and unapproachable.  He believes himself to be a burden, standing between Tom and the life he dreams of, and that he can’t live up to Tom’s expectations – that Tom is disappointed in him.

He wasn’t in the habit of holding his children.

Tom is quite reserved, and is not someone who is prone to outward displays of affection.  Whilst Curtis sees this as a lack of feeling, the reader sense that it’s more that he doesn’t know how to show his feelings.  And he does care – however unexpected Tom’s life has turned out to be, tom has done what he could for his two children, and with Curtis in trouble, he makes it his priority to seek him out, determined to help him.  It seems that for Tom, the mountain can wait.

I read The Mountain Can Wait over the course of a single day.  Set against a stunning backdrop of Western Canadian wilderness, this is a short yet incredibly poignant story.  This isn’t a novel with lots of action – after the opening chapter in which Curtis’s accident occurs, nothing much happens at all.  Yet within this relatively simple set-up, Leipciger delivers an evocative tale about human fragility and the importance of family.

The Mountain Can Wait will be published in paperback on 10 March – many thanks to Elizabeth Masters and Tinder Press for the review copy.

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