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Facing the Mountain

by Wendy Orr

Raven is one unhappy 11-year-old. She’s being forced to move west to live in the shadow of the Rockies with her mother, new stepdad Scott, and older sister Lily, and all she can think about is how wretched it is going to be to leave everything and everyone familiar behind. To make matters worse, Lily still blames her for their father’s departure years before. Insecure and uncertain, Raven feels completely unenthused when Scott proposes the family embark on their first mountain climbing trip shortly after arriving at their new home.

When Mom is held up at work, the other three set off without her. As they fish in the river, spot a deer, and challenge their limits, both girls begin to appreciate the magnificence of the mountains.

Edmonton native Wendy Orr showcases her obvious love and understanding of the setting, crafting evocative descriptions of the rocky ascent, standing behind a waterfall, and the area’s wildlife.

After some hiccups, the climbers near the summit, and Raven runs ahead. Thrilled to reach the top on her own, she celebrates with a dance and slips on some ice. Her fall triggers a rockslide that sends Raven tumbling down the side of the mountain. Injured but able to move, she discovers that Lily and Scott have become trapped in a cave below, and she is their only hope for survival.

A convincing and endearing character, Raven wins sympathy and then admiration as she proves her tenacity and courage in the face of extreme danger.