Wednesday, November 15, 2017

"Let Us Probe the Silent Spaces..." Lily's Mountain by Hannah Moderow

"Please tell me you're kidding," Sophie says. A mosquito lands on her forehead and she doesn't bother swatting it away. "It'll take days to get to the mountain."

"No way. It's only twenty miles," I say.

"Twenty miles of danger," Sophie says. "We promised Mom we'd stay in the campground."

"But I have Dad's expert map," I say, "so we can follow his route."

"...To where?" Sophie asks. "To find his grave?"

Their dad had fallen into a sudden crevice in a glacier near the peak of Mount Denali, but Lily persists in her belief that his mountaineering knowledge and skills would have enabled him to survive, sure that if she and her sister Sophie can get to the slope of Denali, they will be able to rescue their father. Convincing her reluctant mother that a camping trip with her sister is the best way to honor their father, Lily uses what she has learned from her dad to prepare for a climb to the glacier where he disappeared.

But nothing could prepare Lily for what she and Sophie encounter. They are attacked by mosquitoes and a grizzly, but the pepper spray her dad always carried saves them this time. But Lily stumbles in crossing an icy river, losing her backpack, her food, and all her gear. Wet and cold, she and Sophie fight off hypothermia as they ascend above the tree line, and even with a broken rib from a fall down a scree-covered slope, Lily resolves to continues toward the glacier, determined to try to find her father alive.

"Soph!" I say. No answer. She's either asleep or just plain ignoring me. She doesn't know I just ate all our food.

I was sure Dad would be here at the base of the glacier.

Now I'm going to have to walk up the glacier alone to find him.

But what Lily finds on Muldrow Glacier is the edge of a new crevasse, hundreds of feet deep. And just before it is a strip of red tape held up by bamboo stakes, with three words written in black marker.

DANGER! Crevasse ahead.

The hole is massive and bottomless, sheet ice on all sides. "Dad," I whisper, one last time. I don't expect an answer.

I know that the silence will be long.

There's a certain peace in knowing the truth for Lily, in Hannah Moderow's, Lily's Mountain (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017). Moderow's story-telling is fast-paced, with short chapters and plenty of outdoor action to keep middle school and young adult readers involved to the end, but in this riveting coming-of-age debut novel, the mountain is both metaphor and an all-too-real challenge to find a way to deal with the death of a beloved parent. Learning emotional courage as well as physical courage is an significant journey for Lilly, and although Sophie's journey is different, both sisters find a closeness and a solace in knowing that their father is with them yet.

"It's a miracle we made it," says Sophie.

"No, it's not," I say. "Dad taught us exactly what we needed to know."

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home