Mountain available on NetGalley

Mountain is available on NetGalley, just for July. It’s a great way to get a free download, and try your hand at writing it up for Goodreads, Amazon, or another review site or publication.

You can post the same review on both sites, which some people don’t know. I did events for Mountain in Toronto, Ottawa and Peterborough and will be doing more in the fall. Like The Alphabet Stones and Playground of Lost Toys, Mountain is available on Overdrive. Please recommend them to your local branch.

GG award winning author and artist Heather Spears wrote the most wonderful endorsement for Mountain. We weren’t able to use all of it on the back cover, so here it is in its entirety. Terrifically smart and insightful.

Mountain by Ursula Pflug

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. Though it is hard to like Camden, she slowly finds a friendship, even the possibility of love, and the most tentative and understated of romances in the history young adult fiction keeps our attention as it goes nowhere. Camden has a tough self-awareness. Like her lover and the others, she neither expects nor feels she deserves any better than she gets.

In the middle of the book, suddenly, 3 wonderful stories appear about other people, which it turns out Camden has been writing – it would have been fun to read these as if in process, less finished, with crossings-out and margin notes rather than so polished and complete – this is a seventeen-year-old rookie writer after all – and (there is space in such a short novel) for more of them.

There is a typical Alice Munro ending: years later, downplayed and undramatic, with mature insights and a very believable resignation. A young reader might expect more – a happy ending in the conventional sense. Yet this is not a novel of the expected. And it underlines Camden’s floating, self-protective and detached (dissociated) presence in the world, which is so beautifully preserved throughout.

Apart from Aleppo being referred to once, there is no overt mention of the horrors of the outside world. 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 the shadow of the real migrant camps – this is a novel that does not allow us to turn away.

Heather Spears

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