LILY’S MOUNTAIN, by Hannah Moderow, HMH Books for Young Readers, Nov. 14, 2017, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 10-12)
If your father left for a trip and never came home, would you believe that he’s not coming back? That’s the premise of Lily’s Mountain, by Hannah Moderow.
Lily’s father is a mountain climber. He’s summited Denali, the highest mountain in North American, six times. It’s his mountain. But on the way down from his final climb, Lily’s dad falls into a crevasse, and the team he’s with can’t find him.
None of this adds up for Lily. Dad always ropes up and he knows how to rescue himself from inside one. He’s an expert. There’s just no way the events played out this way.
So Lily decides to take things into her own hands. Time is of the essence. She can still rescue him if she moves quickly. All she has to do is convince her mom to let her visit Denali National Park and persuade her older sister, Sophie, to accompany her. Lily is her father’s daughter after all. He’s prepared her for something like this, and she’s ready. At least she thinks so. But the mountain has other plans — plans that will push her physically and emotionally to the edge.
On its face Lily’s Mountain is a story of grief and personal resilience. Lily is a strong character who is, for the most part, likeable. Sophie, as a secondary character also has some nice moments.
Here’s the part I have a hard time with, though. The whole scenario seems a bit far-fetched. I know people deal with grief in different ways, but I can’t imagine a mother sending her two teenagers out into the wild alone. Yes, the girls have had wilderness training. Yes, their mom makes arrangements with the ranger at the campground. But how could she have not seen this coming? For a family as close-knit as they supposedly are, this felt off.
Lily and her sister are supposed to be smart, but they make some really poor, really dangerous decisions. And though there are adults on the periphery, they’re never exactly there.
Author Hannah Moderow does an excellent job transporting readers to the Alaskan wilderness. Lily’s Mountain is a quick-moving survivor’s tale/contemporary fiction hybrid that has some beautiful moments and others that will probably excite the intended audience and make parents squirm (see above).
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