On July 26, 1999, Sherry Shahan and a friend were hiking on Mt. Whitney with a small group of backpackers, when they were caught in an electrical thunder storm. Lightning struck the group causing the death of a mule, and a horse. The cowboy riding on the horse ended up being trapped beneath it. Shahan and her friend witnessed lightning strike their group and ran for help. This story, Death Mountain, (published by Peachtree Press) was born out of the “what ifs” that Shahan asked herself after this experience.
Death Mountain tells the story of two girls, Erin and Mae, who begin as strangers but form a friendship after a harrowing experiencing on a mountain top.
This book is a survivor adventure story written for young adults. Although it does have themes of family abandonment (Erin’s mother left her father and herself almost a year prior to this story’s beginning), that’s about as dicey as it gets. Mae is into all things girly (clothes, make-up, etc) until living out this adventure and fighting for survival. After fighting hunger, and struggling for her very life, she realizes that the things she thought mattered prior to this experience weren’t really all that important. Erin begins this story rather cold-hearted and cynical but gradually opens up to Mae and begins sharing what is really in her heart as they find their way back home. Although the girls are quite different, they use their differences to their advantage and form a strange but lasting friendship and meet the challenges that they are presented with.
This book isn’t about teen romance at all. It’s about friendship, honesty and finding out what is most important in life. I confess I’m typically not a fan of YA fiction but this one was adventurous enough that I didn’t mind it in the least and found the story rather fun. I wouldn’t suffer any hesitations in handing it over to the young female reader in my charge. It’s different from other pieces of YA fiction that I’ve stumbled across and I like it.
Carrie comes by her book obsession honestly, having descended from a long line of bibliophiles. She blogs about books regularly at Reading to Know.