The night was still black when Curtis pulled his suburban away from the curb and turned toward the mountain highway, leaving his apartment, his sleeping street behind him.
– Opening sentence
Set in the Canadian mountains, The Mountain Can Wait revolves around single father Tom Berry, and his son Curtis. Tom Berry is a quiet and practical man, who owns his own forestry businesses and dreams of retiring in a restored barn where his two grown-up children can come and visit.
Curtis, who is less like his father and who wears his heart on his sleeve, just wants to run and hide from the thing that he’s done. But can he run from this? And even if he can, can he run from his own guilt?
Initially somewhat of a slow burner, despite the hit-and-run at the very beginning of the first chapter, I found myself becoming more and more engrossed as I kept reading.
Sarah Leipciger writes in a clear and beautiful way, describing the setting and characters in a way that lifts them from the page and brings them to life. The simplistic yet powerful prose transported me to Canada whilst I read, where I climbed mountains with Tom and kayaked in the moonlight with Curtis; each character becoming more familiar and dear to me as the story progressed.
It’s unbelievable that this is a debut novel from Leipciger; it’s so natural and, at times, almost poetic.
This is not, perhaps, a read for those who love action and drama in each turn. But for those who appreciate good writing, and wish to be transported into the lives of a relatable family surrounded by the beauty of the Canadian scenery, it’s one not to miss.
(4 / 5)
And the wind blows a song through their stiff boughs as they stand witness in the dark, and they will keep this song a secret.
– Final sentence
What I really liked about my copy (and I don’t know whether this is the same in other copies people may have), is a Q&A with Leipciger at the back, as well as some photos from when Leipciger lived in Prince George, British Columbia herself.
I’ll share some of those Q&As with you here:
What inspired you to write The Mountain Can Wait?
The idea for the book started with Tom Berry, the main character. The first seed of Tom came from a specific memory of a guy I knew: me riding in his car with him and his mom. He said, ‘I’m never having kids.’ To which she replied, ‘You’re the kid I was never going to have.’ It got me thinking: what if a guy like that did have kids? And what if he had to raise them alone? And then I thought: one of them has to make a mistake, a big one.
Where did your love of nature spring from and how do you nurture it?
I grew up on lakes and rivers, spent most of my teenage years in a kayak. My favourite landscape is the forest, northern lakes and mountains. Here in England, in London where I live, there is of course limited access to this kind of environment. But eight years ago I joined an open-water swimming group and it changed my life. We train an outdoor pool, but we compete in lakes and rivers, both in England and internationally. This spring we head to Croatia for a week to train in the sea. I also do a lot of camping with my husband and our three kids – here in England, also in Scotland and France.
What do you think are the best ways to encourage people to read?
I recommend books to people all the time, and, if I have said book at home, follow up the recommendation by lending it out to them (with a no-joke warning that I do want it back). We also have a free library box in our neighbourhood, erected in front of someone’s house. I think these little donate-and-help-yourself libraries are glorious, not just for the love of reading, but for the boosting of community spirit.