At nineteen, Tom wasn’t ready for fatherhood. Four years on, he wasn’t ready for his unstable wife to leave him with young Curtis and his four-month-old sister, Erin. But he thinks he’s done okay, raising them to be independent, teaching them the countryside survival skills he values. It irks him that Curtis has never been much of a hunter, that teenage Erin now prefers to keep to her room. But he accepts that his kids are reaching the age when they’ll no longer needed him, when he’ll be free to retreat to the cabin in the forest he’s always dreamt of; perhaps, if he’s lucky, his part-time girlfriend, Carolina, will join him there.
The Mountain Can Wait is a poignant tale of fatherhood in the context of a work setting unfamiliar to me, but which the author, Sarah Leipciger knows well. While I appreciated learning about Canadian forestry, I’d have preferred to have arrived at the family crisis a little sooner than halfway through. Nevertheless, an impressive debut; thanks to Tinder Press for my review copy. If you like novels about the forested wilderness, you might also want to check out my reviews of The Wolf Border, Our Endless Numbered Days (featuring much more misguided father) and The Snow Child. For another father failing to recognise what his child needs from him, see Everything I Never Told You.