Seventeen-year-old Camden splits her time between her father, a minor rock star, and her mom, a scruffy “hardware geek” who designs and implements temporary and sustainable power systems and satellite linkups for off-grid music and art festivals, tree-sits, and attends gatherings of alternative healers. Lark, Camden’s father, provides her with brand-name jeans, running shoes, and makeup, while her mother’s world is populated by anarchists, freaks, geeks, and hippies. Naturally, Camden prefers staying with her dad and going to the mall with his credit card and her best friend, but one summer, when Lark is recording a new album, Camden accompanies her mother, Laureen, to a healing camp on a mountain in Northern California. After their arrival, Laureen heads to San Francisco, ostensibly to find her lover, but she never comes back. Alone, penniless, and without much in the way of camping skills, Camden withdraws. Things begin to look up when she is befriended by Skinny, a young man in charge of the security detail at the camp who knew her mother as a child. The summer ends and Camden heads back to Toronto to find her dad, and it’s only there that she learns Laureen’s disappearance is tied, unexpectedly, to the secrets Skinny tried to keep from her for months, until, finally, he couldn’t.
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Praise for Mountain:

“A beautifully sustained and compassionate book about the lost, written in the voice of Camden, a young girl who is, predictably rather than suddenly, abandoned in a healing “camp” halfway up a Mountain in California. Intelligent and wary, she does not ask for sympathy or let anyone, including the reader, near-her voice is cool, sarcastic and resigned, though Ursula Pflug’s mastery gives us the continuous sense of what is not said. This is not a novel of the expected. In the stagnant daily routines on the Mountain (mud and latrines and wet clothes form a large part), the isolation of each from each, the loss of family and attempts to create new bonds however fragile, there is a continuous sense of this book’s being written in the shadow of real migrant camps. This is a novel that does not allow us to turn away.”
Heather Spears, artist, writer, Governor General’s award for poetry

“A delicate, bittersweet story full of big ideas, told in sumi-e brushstrokes set against a large-scale canvas, from master Canadian fantasist Ursula Pflug.”
– Candas Jane Dorsey, author of A Paradigm of Earth

“Mountain is a utopian book about sexual assault. It begins with a conversation about molestation, and multiple conversations throughout the book begin with the question, “Have you ever been raped?” Again and again traumas surface like bodies buried in glaciers for eons. Global warming melts the ice and slowly reveals the violence.”
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Review by Joanne Rixon
Cascadia Subduction Zone
Vol. 8 No. 1 2018

“I highly recommend this book because many young adults can relate to the dual life of sharing their time between co-parenting households and the challenges this can create. This story takes the reader on a journey they will hopefully never have to live but makes them think. Mountain would be a good addition to public and school libraries as a powerful adventure and a coming of age story with a strong female protagonist.”
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Review by Heidi Henkenhaf
CM: Canadian Review of Materials
Volume XXIV Number 24
February 23, 2018

“It is the juxtaposition of Camden’s developing independence and the chronicle of the healing camp that give the story its singular point of view. Camden finds more than just herself while waiting for her mother and Skinny, the ageless and almost sexless male who is her sort-of mentor at the camp who gives her the time and space to question what is universally important as opposed to what is simply pertinent to the situation.”
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Review by Lesley Little
Resource Links – connecting classrooms, libraries, and Canadian learning resources
February 2018

“Mountain is a short, but captivating read. It is aimed at the young adult reader (no sex, occasional profanity) and I found it most interesting once I understood the culture of The Tribe. The main characters are likeable, and the backdrop of the mountains and nature, in general, give Mountain a healing and meditative aspect uniquely its own. For such a short work, Mountain produces an impact of disproportionate size.”
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Review by James Fisher
The Miramichi Reader
June 26, 2017

Though Mountain is not a novel of frenetic action, “…there’s a strong sense of mystery that pulls the reader forward. Why has Laureen been gone so long? What is it that Skinny isn’t telling Amethyst? What catastrophic event has led to so many kids being parentless, so many people living as squatters? I found myself drawn through the book in search of the answers to these and other questions.
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Review by Lisa Timpf
The Future Fire
Friday, July 28 2017

“The narrator is a teenage girl, the daughter of divorced parents. Her father, who does not appear until the end, is a successful musician. With him, she leads a life of credit cards and shopping malls. Her mother travels to communal gatherings, where she uses her technical skills to help those who live there survive off the land with do-it-yourself technology. During one such excursion, she leaves her daughter behind, promising to return in a few days. While the daughter waits, she becomes friends with a boy who has secrets, which remain unrevealed until halfway through the novella. She also records the stories of other young people who have come to the gathering.”
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Review by Victoria Silverwolf
Tangent Online
December 2017

Mountain is on Tangent’s Recommended Reading List for 2017. Also in the novella category are books by Marc Laidlaw and Cynthia Ward.