Title: The Mountain Between Us
Author: Charles Martin
Publisher: Broadway Books
Date of Publication: August 2017 (first published June 2010)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Adventure (Survival)
Page Count: 336
The Mountain Between Us is a romantic survival story about hope that takes place in the mountains near Salt Lake City. This is a unique survival story because the stranded people are complete strangers, a journalist named Ashley (in the movie she’s called Alex), and a doctor named Ben.
The crash enables our two main characters, Ashley and Ben, to see their life from a new perspective, enabling them to learn more about themselves. In the book, the Grover’s Charter pilot, Grover, married for almost fifty years, has advice to give Ben, married for fifteen years, and Ashley, engaged. In the movie the pilot is NOT married! This was incredibly annoying because the difference in their marriage experience offered Grover the opportunity to give Ben and Ashley advice.
“When I wake up in the morning, she’s holding my hand. I make the coffee, and then she sits with her knees touching mine while we drink it.”
In the book Ben comes up with the idea to take the charter plane, while in the movie it was Ashley’s (Alex) idea. Another big difference between the book and movie is Ashley’s injury. In the book her broken femur leaves her immobile, forcing Ben to create a makeshift sled and pull her for the entire journey, while in the movie her injury isn’t as bad and she is able to walk.
There is a big emphasis on Ben’s running career and climbing experience in the book which helps to explain how he could have the stamina and experience to get them off the mountain. He also had his climbing bag with him, which contained many essential items that helped their survival. This is one of the conveniences that makes the book feel inauthentic. The movie leaves out the running, climbing experience, and the backpack – leaving Ben and Ashley (Alex) to “wing it”. It makes the story feel more authentic, however, it does make me wonder how in the world could they have survived without any kind of gear.
There are many flashbacks in the novel written in italics which makes it easy to follow. The writing style has a good description of the environment, and a great sense of humour. The banter between Ben and Ashley is hilarious and I found myself laughing more than once, which I wasn’t expecting from a survival story.
Ashley was grinding her teeth when I shook her. “You ready?”
She nodded, sat up. “Any coffee?”
I handed her a mug of fluid that looked more like weak tea. “Go easy. That’s the last of it.”
“It’s already a bad day, and we haven’t even started yet.”
“Think of it this way… every step away from this place is one step closer to a cappuccino at Starbucks.”
She licked her lips. “I love it when you talk dirty to me.”
In the book we get to see Ben making messages to his wife on his recorder, where in the movie this isn’t really shown. Being able to know his thoughts to his wife enables the reader to really get to know Ben and learn more about his marriage. Throughout the novel the reader is trying to figure out why Ben and his wife separated, and the reveal at the end BLEW ME AWAY. I didn’t see that coming at all, and it made me bawl my eyes out. This big reveal doesn’t exist in the movie.
In the book Ben and Ashley can’t remember Grover’s dog’s name so they just call him Tank. Whereas in the movie he remains unnamed. In the book Tank is a fierce warrior and a key player in their survival, however in the movie he’s often absent and it doesn’t really show the impact of trudging through human knee-deep snow for many days.
The plane crash happens very early on in both the book and movie, which amps up the excitement quickly and jumps right into Ben and Ashley being forced to get to know each other while fighting for their life.
I cried a few times while reading, and I don’t cry while reading very often. However, the movie didn’t have the scenes that made me cry, which was disappointing.
One thing the movie did better than the book is the portrayal of women. The are many sexist remarks and ideas in the book that aren’t present in the movie. In fact, Ashley’s (Alex) change in injury alone made her an active participant in their struggle.
I recommend the book and movie for anyone looking for an exciting, emotional, survival story.
Martin earned his B.A. in English from Florida State University and went on to receive an M.A. in Journalism and a Ph.D. in Communication from Regent University. He currently lives in Jacksonville, Florida.
He is the author of thirteen novels: Send Down the Rain (2018), Long Way Gone (2017), Water from My Heart (2015), A Life Intercepted (2014), Unwritten (2013), Thunder and Rain (2012), The Mountain Between Us (2010), Where the River Ends (2008), Chasing Fireflies: A Novel of Discovery (2007), Maggie: The Sequel to The Dead Don’t Dance (Awakening Book 2) (2006), When Crickets Cry (2006), Wrapped in Rain (2005) and The Dead Don’t Dance (Awakening Book 1) (2004).