Monday, June 27, 2011

Review: Down From Cascom Mountain by Ann Joslin Williams

Some places catch at your heart and become lodged within you. For Mary Hall Walker, the cabin on Cascom Mountain, where she spent long days with her parents, watching them and learning to love from their example, is one such place. And so Mary, newly wed and deeply in love, brings husband Michael to this tiny community and the place that means so much to her. But Michael falls to his death on a day hike up the mountain and Mary is in danger of being dragged under by grief and sorrow.

As Mary wanders through the lush and rugged landscape of the mountain and of her memories and her own personal, raw grief, she comes to know some of the people around her who are also struggling. She babysat Tobin when he was a child and his mentally ill mother had gone away. Now as a teenager, exhibiting some OCD behaviour, Tobin struggles with his memory of this mother who so terrorized him, still living in fear of this vanished ogre. Cassie is a 16 year old girl who is working at the local mountain resort for the summer and who was on the crew to bring Michael's body down from the mountain. She is confused and trying to grow up as fast as she can, still straddling the line between child and adult as she willfully loses her innocence and then must face the emotional repercussions. Ben is the fire ranger on the mountain, quiet and solitary, who lives in the world of his own grief even as he works toward coming back to life. Drawn together by Mary's loss, these four different, damaged characters make the fragile and tenuous connections that keep people tethered to life and to each other.

As the summer draws onward, this very character driven, elegaic feeling novel moves to a conclusion and a continuation of life in some ways unexpected. The story plumbs the depths of howling grief, shock, and sadness but counterbalances it with a passion and drive toward life that proves healing and new. Although it is clear that the summer of the novel will reside in each character's soul forever, they have all grown and changed as a result of their time on Cascom Mountain. The mountain itself looms large over the story, proving not only the catalyst for Michael's death but also as the timeless, natural world enduring beyond human concerns. Williams does a beautiful job evoking the landscape, green and alive. Descriptive and beautifully written, this slow moving examination of the ragged way grief intersects our world and the various paths we travel to heal is haunting.

For more information about Ann Joslin Williams and the book visit her webpage.

Thanks to Lisa from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.


  1. Sometimes slow-moving is the best way to handle stories of grief in my opinion. Sounds like this is a beautiful book.

    Thanks for being on the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

  2. Beautiful review! I loved this one too!


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