The Mountain Can Wait
Author: Sarah Leipciger
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½
Narrator: Robert Petkoff
Run Time: 8hrs, 1 min
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Review Copy Provided by Hachette Audio
“Her face in the headlights flashed like a coin. She was an instant, the sulphuric flare of a match.”
Tragedy erupts in an instant. Lives are shattered irrevocably. A young man drives off into the night, leaving a girl injured, perhaps fatally so.
From that cliffhanger opening, Sarah Leipciger takes readers back and forward in time to tell the haunting story of one family’s unraveling in rural logging country where the land is still the economic backbone. Like the novels of Annie Proulx, this extraordinarily lyrical debut is rooted in richly detailed nature writing and sharply focused on small town mores and the particularities of regional culture.
As I started listening to The Mountain Can Wait, I realized early on that a key theme/echo through-out would be, ‘the mountain can give and the mountain can take’ and that is how I would describe this book by Leipciger in 10 words or less. From the description of the book, the reader (or in this case, listener) goes into it knowing that there is going to be an element of mystery (although not really suspense), but that there would be more of a focus on family ties and character interaction. Its actually kind of hard to describe without giving huge spoilers.
For me the most enjoyable part of the story (aside from the narration which is a whole separate beast) was seeing the representation of different cultures that the author managed to weave into the story. Having never been to Canada, and not growing up in the US, my knowledge of geography in the British Columbia/Saskatchewan area is basically nonexistent, as well as my knowledge of the indigenous people that live in the area. The relationship between the main character, Tom and his children (Curtis and Erin) seemed very distant and potentially almost neglectful at times – although it was written in a way to make the reader try to understand the hard life that loggers have – when they have to leave their families/homes for potentially weeks/months on end in order to earn money to survive and especially in the sense that they might not have support systems; or their lack of presence may cause issues with their support system (in this instance, Tom’s wife who disappeared prior to the book starting).
I really liked/appreciated how the author approached the writing – taking a certain event that occurred and then going back in time and working forward to the event; and even then continuing on until the story completion in the epilogue. While its a harder style to write than a true linear one and it needs the right kind of story to use the style, it was definitely suited for this book.
I will admit that if Robert Petkoff hadn’t been the narrator that I probably wouldn’t have picked it to read/review. There are some narrators that I will automatically gravitate to, no matter the style of book, or if its a genre of book I normally read or don’t read – and Robert Petkoff is one of those narrators. For me, the strength in this audiobook was that it was told predominantly from a male POV. At the same time, the cast of characters wasn’t necessarily as diverse as other books I have listened to and since the two main characters (Tom and Curtis) were family, it made for some similar voice intonations during the narration (although I would expect that if the book revolved around family, since it is often the case). While The Mountain Can Wait was 8hrs long, it flowed it a way that made it feel substantially shorter – which is always good for me when it comes to listening.
Overall, I was intrigued by Sarah Leipciger debut novel and I’m intrigued to see what she writes about in the future. I gave The Mountain Can Wait 3.5 stars for writing and the narration 4 stars with a solid performance by Robert Petkoff like always.