Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Mountains Between Us: Too Many Problems, Too Little Time

In her novel, Mountains Between Us, Jenny Proctor tells the story of two characters, Eliza Redding and Henry Jacobson, who come to work at Rockbridge Academy, a rehabilitative boarding school for youth located in North Carolina. During this time Henry is recovering from a divorce and struggling to repair his relationship with his son. Eliza, on the other hand, faces a shaky relationship with her mom and an alcoholic sister who won't get treatment. Through these struggles they draw closer together and finally find a way to have it all.
This novel is interesting in that it tries to grapple with a lot of different struggles and trials all at once. These are real problems that deserve consideration in literature. However, there are too many problems to sufficiently cover in a 227 page novel. Not only does it grapple with parent child relationships after a divorce, the struggle of dealing with alcoholism in a family, and moving on romantically after a divorce, it also takes on the issues of starting a new job, spreading the Gospel, abandonment, foster care, and dealing with troubled teens. Any one of these topics would be good for an individual novel, but to include them all in such a short work makes it difficult to do even one them justice. Many of the problems fall by the way side or are too easily resolved.
This is not to say that such big, real life issues shouldn't be dealt with in literature. That is one of the biggest benefits of literature, that it struggles and grapples with life, allowing us to find solutions as we read. And I have to say that it took courage on Proctor's part to bring so many large, challenging problems together in one novel. The combination definitely brings about a unique read unlike the other LDS fiction I have read thus far.

Picture from Wikipedia


  1. I definitely agree that she tried to take on way too many struggles in one short novel. I think that if she had spread out the problems across several novels or chosen only a few of the issues, she could have covered them in greater detail. I think that this would have helped us readers to recognize better the depth of the struggles of the characters.

  2. I agree with you. This was a lot to swallow. Like watching the breakfast club with all the issues of the room put into one person.