The Middle of Somewhere
By Sonja Yoerg
Publication Date: 9/01/2015
My Rating: 5 Stars
A troubled, young widow hikes from Yosemite Valley deep into the wilderness on the John Muir Trail to elude her shameful past in this emotionally gripping story from the author of House Broken.
With her thirtieth birthday looming, Liz Kroft is heading for the hills—literally. Her emotional baggage weighs her down more than her backpack, but a three-week trek promises the solitude she craves—at least until her boyfriend, Dante, decides to tag along. His broad moral streak makes the prospect of confessing her sins more difficult, but as much as she fears his judgment, she fears losing him more. Maybe.
They set off together alone under blue skies, but it’s not long before storms threaten and two strange brothers appear along the trail. Amid the jagged, towering peaks, Liz must decide whether to admit her mistakes and confront her fears, or face the trail, the brothers and her future alone.
About the Author
I grew up in Stowe, Vermont, a wonderful place to be a child. I earned a Ph.D. in Biological Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley and published a nonfiction book about animal intelligence, Clever as a Fox (Bloomsbury USA, 2001). I now live with my husband in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
A special thank you to Penguin Group and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Talented Sonja Yoerg returns following her smashing debut House Broken with impressive and complex, THE MIDDLE OF SOMEWHERE --an exploration of intense emotions on the road to rediscovery, forgiveness, and love. A gripping tale of facing the past. An unknown wilderness, mixed with temptations, fears, doubts, betrayal, anger, and evil (life), its obstacles, and complexities; storms, winds, hills, valleys, and darkness. A journey, to a clearer path, a trail, uncluttered, leading to the light, clarity— a compelling journey to honesty, acceptance, forgiveness, redemption, by taking a step outside your comfort zone, conquering fears of the past, holding us back -- in order to embrace the future, and all that is waiting, for the taking; by simply reaching out, trusting. Told from Liz’s point of view, written with engaging literary prose, and stunning metaphors, Yoerg takes readers on an amazing journey with an array of emotions of loss, fear, love, and hope, as she guides with vivid descriptions, a nature backdrop setting; an adventure – both physically and mentally, running parallel. The characters we meet, the other hikers along the John Muir Trail; have a purpose. We will learn how each person along the trail will play a role in the overall novel. A transformation of Liz, a rediscovery, a life lesson. Can Liz and Dante peel back the layers to discover real love, their true selves, and let go of the past, holding them back? At times, a trail is not wide enough for two, and someone has to remain behind, or make room for the other. Sometimes life is like an elevator, we have to let some people off on our way up. Meet Liz Kroft, age 29-years old, a sharp engineer, with a rocky past in the relationship department. She is complex, and insecure about her choices, her past, and her future. She does not trust anyone, much less herself. She wants to escape, she yearns for solitude, to take her secrets and sins with her ---to bury deep inside the forest. A hike is perfect for her mood and her survival from life's storms. She longs to do it alone. She does not want anyone to accompany her, especially Dante. She was excited about planning her solo trip, hiking the John Muir Trail, the planning, and research restored her calm, as she studied the weather patterns, the emergency provisions, and the logistics of resupply. She immersed herself in backpacking blogs and books about the trail, taking her mind off her problems. She never fears 18-days of backpacking through an unknown forest, yet she fears her own feelings, her doubts, her sins, insecurities, and Dante’s love. Liz was married in the past to Gabriel. What started out wonderful, ended in betrayal. Then there was Dante. There is tension, conflict between the two. As he gets closer, she backs away. Has she made a mistake? He cannot learn the things she has done. She is shamed by her actions. He surely will not love her when he learns the truth. Dante follows her, even though he is not passionate about hiking; however, he is afraid he will lose Liz, unless he goes along, and tries to fit in. There is tension, stress, and obstacles along the way as they try and survive, not only the journey, but their relationship. We learn about Liz’s past, her parents, her childhood—where Liz learned to keep her own company. When she was tired of her books and toys she would disassemble household objects; hence, her bio-medical-engineering passion. From past to present, a beautifully written and well-researched novel. When fear itself, may be bigger than the wolf we are hiding from. Liz and Dante must face haunting emotional challenges, and at the same time the often treacherous terrain of the wilderness. Reminiscent of some of my favorites: Charles Martin The Mountain Between Us, Wiley Cash This Dark Road to Mercy, T. Greenwood The Forever Bridge , Tim Johnston Descent, Allen Eskens The Life We Bury , Catherine Ryan Hyde Take Me With You, Christopher Scotton The Secret Wisdom of the Earth and Richard Paul Evans The Walk Series; with the outdoor mountain wilderness setting, and the deep human emotional dynamics which connect---a compelling, deeply moving, and emotional rich journey. Ideal for book clubs and further discussions with many, what ifs, and a wide range of perspectives. Sonja includes some great discussion questions to jump start your group. Well Done. Can't wait to see what's next! An author to follow. On a Personal Note: As an avid hiker, cycler, and an outdoor enthusiast, I love solitude. Give me a backpack, water, books, and a trail in the wilderness for the next 20 hrs, and I am in heaven. Nothing better than the great outdoors to offer a new perspective. I find solace in the dark wooded areas, the mysterious trees,the quiet, the dampness, the rich earth, streams, waterfalls, surrounded by God’s beautiful nature. Given a mountain, hiking or bike trail - I am a happy camper. Of course, I prefer a quaint log cabin with a swing in the middle of the woods, when spending the night, versus a tent. Love to spend days hiking alone and cycling through 300 miles of trails. (however, I do take books along) to keep me company. To me the quiet time hiking on a mountain, or cycling, helps me recharge, more so than a day at a luxury spa. Those late nights stranded alone in total darkness in thunderstorms, with 4 or 5 hrs to go --not so relaxing. As you see, I made it out alive more than once.
By Sonja Yoerg
Publisher: Penguin/NAL Trade
Publication Date: 01/06/2015
My Rating: 5 Stars