I first learned about Snow Rising by Matt Baldwin while reading a blog by another author. It sounded intriguing, so I headed down to my local library to see if they had it. They didn’t but, I was able to borrow it through the inter-library loan program.
As a side note, I LOVE the library. I really, really LOVE the library. I probably should have become a librarian because then I could spend my days surrounded by books at, yep, the library. I’m a big fan of the library and I think everyone should support their local libraries. I could never afford all the books I want to read, but there they are for the reading down at the library. Woo Hoo!
Back to Snow Rising, I knew going in that it was a book with a message. I’ve read a lot of books that are parables for different life principles, set in the form of a story or novel. Some are good, some not so much. This one definitely falls into the former category.
Jason Snow is a successful business executive whose personal life isn’t going so well. He has made choices in his life that have been less than forthright and honorable and he has become an unhappy, intolerant and arrogant man. He wants to return to the way things used to be, but seems lost and unable to recognize his need to change, rationalizing and blaming others for his unhappiness. When the story opens, he and his family are vacationing in the Oregon Cascades where, in the midst of this turmoil, he has plans to climb Mt. Hood, Oregon’s highest peak and challenging, if not daunting trek.
Jason signs on with an outfitter and is assigned to a team of climbers, led by Clara, a veteran of Mt. Hood. The expedition begins with a day of training and acclimation to the cold and the altitude. During this training period, Clara notices that Jason is going through some kind of internal struggle and they begin a discussion about life, morality, values, priorities and about change. During this ongoing discussion which continues into the climb, Clara challenges Jason in many ways, compelling him to really begin thinking about his life and his choices. She teaches him about four basic values that she believes are the core of everything we do and every decision we make. In the story, we come to learn how Clara learned these lessons and how it has impacted her life as well. We also come to learn that each of the other four climbers on the team are there on their own personal quests, though they are certainly more secondary to the story.
As we continue through the book and on Jason’s journey up Mt. Hood, Jason begins to ponder these values and the principles that Clara is teaching him and we can feel the internal struggle as he seeks to reconcile his life with these principles. They summit Mt. Hood, and it becomes a pivotal and moving experience for the group. On the way down the mountain, however, disaster strikes and Clara’s life quite literally hangs in the balance and it is up to Jason to hold the team together as they struggle to save Clara and stay alive.
Snow Rising was more appealing than many of the parables I read because it was a well-written story. Not just a parable thinly wrapped in a novel, but a story that was compelling to read on its own, even though the relationship between Clara and Jason felt a bit contrived in the beginning. Despite my initial thought that I knew pretty much how it would all play out, it surprised me. The end was not what I expected. Being as I read it during a reflective period in my own life, the principles in the book resonated with me and, as I pondered them, they have given me some insight into the changes I’d like to make in my own life.
I recommend this book to anyone. It’s not a difficult read; it’s a good story, with a feel of authenticity to the mountain experiences, and certainly would provide both entertainment and enlightenment for everyone from teens to grandparents.
In closing, let me leave you with this challenge from author Matthew Baldwin: “I invite you to join Jason Snow, and leave you with two questions: one, can you be an advocate for the changes you desire to see in yourself and in the world around you; and two, do you have the audacity to find out?”