A "male" story. This is about Ben Givens, a 73yo former cardiac surgeon who is dying of colon cancer. It is not depressing. He sets out to do some bird hunting and ret5urn to his boyhood home with the intention of killing himself in order not to suffer the last stages of cancer. Along the way he has both experiences and people that change his mind. He also reminisces about his earlier years, when he was in the war as a Private, when he met his wife, how he and his older brother Aidan grew up. Guterson is a very graphic writer...you can see his hills and dales and smell his sage and hear his birds. Altogether a totally enjoyable read, and a lesson in the philosophy of dying. 5 stars
I found this book ripe with meaning and messages about life, aging and compassion for all walks of life. Once again, Guterson has the ability to transport the reader from the written word into a captivating picturesque world through his story.
East of the Mountains is not about the courage it takes to die, but the courage it takes to live, and guterson depicts ths moral and spiritual struggle with a clear-eyed intensity and intelligence that gives [this novel] its essential authority.
This is a well-written and memorable novel about coming to terms with aging and mortality. Set in the orchard country of eastern Washington State, East of the Mountains is the story of Ben Givens, a WWII veteran, retired heart surgeon and widower. Mourning the death of his beloved wife, Ben sets out on a journey to complete a well-planned suicide, following a diagnosis of terminal cancer. Despite his careful planning and organization, Ben's arrangements fall apart following a car wreck; in the events that follow, Ben meets people: some who help him, and some who disparage him. Through a period of a few days and flashbacks to his childhood, romance and wartime experiences, Ben reassesses his life and future.
It isn't very often that I read a book that makes me feel as if I'm right there with the characters and not just an outsider looking in. This is one of the rare ones. The authors descriptions of the country, towns, the different eras in time and the people he introduces you to had me feeling as if I had actually experienced it along with the main character. I absolutely loved this story and it will be one that I'll be reading several times.