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Death Mountain: A Suspenseful and Educational Novel For Young Adults

Updated on December 18, 2015

Adults Will Enjoy Reading Death Mountain, Too

I did. And that was before I saw the words "Young Adult Fiction" on the back cover, which didn't happen until I was three-quarters of the way though the book.

I must say, though, I was unsure about reviewing this novel. I don't enjoy saying anything negative about another writer's work ... especially when that author has personally asked me for a review.

But my concerns were put to rest once I began reading Death Mountain, which is well written with a good literary pace that held my interest and kept me turning pages long after I should have been asleep. And the fact that this story is based in part on the author's real personal experience on Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the continental U.S., when she and her companions were caught in an electrical storm that killed their pack horse and mule and sent three of the women to the hospital, makes it even more realistic.

Death Mountain

Published by Peachtree

When lightning strikes and two young girls become separated from their older companion, an afternoon hike in the Sierras turns into a desperate struggle to survive.

A Story Of Adventure And Courage - Written by Sherry Shahan

Thirteen year-old Erin is wise beyond her years and more experienced with backcountry skills than most kids her age, thanks to her outdoorsy grandmother. But, like any child or adult, she makes mistakes.

And so she does on a trip to see her estranged mother, when a series of missteps and knee-jerk reactions lands Erin lost in the Sierra Nevada Mountains with only the company of an inexperienced new friend. Together, the two teen girls are forced to rely solely on their own strengths and skills, as well as one another, to survive cold nights, hunger, exhaustion and injuries.

Death Mountain
Death Mountain
I found "Death Mountain" to be a suspenseful, fast-paced and educational story for readers of any age. In addition to the girls' struggle to survive, the story also deals with young Erin's struggle to understand why her mother left so suddenly and find within herself the strength to forgive.

A Quote from Death Mountain

"Until now, [Erin] hadn't considered how one careless decision could lead to so many others. She looked back on all the stupid things she'd done over the last few days. Losing the bus ticket. Hitchhiking. Now, hiking without being fully prepared."

Death Mountain, a novel by Sherry Shahan
Death Mountain, a novel by Sherry Shahan | Source

Things We Can All Learn From Erin

Death Mountain is great material for a book club or classroom discussion.

Anyone who enjoys hiking can learn something from this story.

Death Mountain isn't a how-to book, but we can all benefit from the young heroine's trials, tribulations and triumphs. Her actions touch upon what to do -- and what NOT do -- when lost in the backcountry and when caught in a thunderstorm while outdoors.

The story illustrates the importance of carrying a map as well as actually knowing how to read it, even if one is following a well-marked trail, how to build an emergency shelter, how start a fire and how to cross swiftly moving water with a strong current.

Death Mountain is an excellent basis for discussion between parents and their kids, or teachers and their students, about backcountry safety and preparedness.

Good topics for discussion might include:

  • What did Erin and Mae do wrong before they got lost?
  • What did Erin and Mae do wrong after they got lost?
  • What did Erin and Mae do right?
  • What could the girls have done differently that might have avoided the problems they faced?
  • What kinds of things are important to carry with you when you go hiking?
  • What should one do if caught in a thunderstorm while outside?
  • What kind of information can you learn from a map?
  • What should you do if you get lost while hiking?

Have You Read "Death Mountain"? - If so, please rate the book.

On a scale of 1-7, what did you REALLY think?

See results

© 2009 Deb Kingsbury


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