The thing that grabbed me about this book was the title: it bothered me. Still does. And I want to rewrite it – “What the Ground Cannot Hold”.
But despite the fact that the title nagged at the edges of my reading view, I persisted and I am delighted that I did.
There are several different elements which are sure to intrigue readers in this book. Firstly, the plot. An avalanche on a mountain in the remote Andes – what’s not to love for those of us who enjoy a thriller? But this is only the background. The real intrigue lies in the complexity of each of the characters who find themselves stranded together in an isolated cabin, cut off from the rest of the world, alone in the white world of the mountain.
I thought Cosgrove was quite clever at how she wove together the narratives of each of these characters. This afforded the novel both a level of interest and a sound structure. In addition, it created a space for the reader to meander through the story filling in the gaps created by a single perspective as other voices were introduced. But more than this, it is what Cosgrove omits that is most intriguing about this book. In so many ways she leaves readers in the dark, providing only the scantest details about contextual events and the personal lives of each of her characters. I found these omissions both fascinating and irritating. What will Emma do about the lies her parents told her? How will Pedro reconcile himself to his past? Will the German family forgive themselves and each other? The book resolves none of these questions. They merely hang in the air, left for readers to ponder. Similarly, the plot is left hanging – “Surely I could hold on.” It is a brave ending, a climactic and tension filled crescendo which is left in mid air. I admire Cosgrove for leaving us like this, in the space that opens up with the not-knowing. I didn’t like it, but it leaves me with great respect for her as an author.
This was certainly an interesting read and I will look out for more of Cosgrove’s books – perhaps there will be a sequel and there I will find the resolution that I so crave as a reader?