Only a few seconds…in an instant…lives can change forever. One moment your family is traveling a mountain road, laughing and talking, headed to a restaurant for a meal with friends.
A deer appears on the snowy road and the driver veers to avoid it. The van swerves, hits the guardrail, and hangs precipitously for a second, then crashes over the side.
Inside the van is Finn, a 16-year old, her brother Oz, a 13-year old with special needs, and Finn’s best friend, Mo. Also, in the van are an older sister, Chloe, and her boyfriend, Vance, Jack and Ann Miller (the parents) and the dog, Bingo, is with them, too.
Ann’s best friend is with them, Karen, and her husband, Bob, and their daughter, Natalie. And, on the way to the restaurant the van stopped to pick up a young man stranded with a broken down car, Kyle. A total of 10 people and the dog.
When the van tumbles off the roadside, twisting and bouncing, there are many injuries, and one person does not survive. Finn Miller is killed instantly and continues to narrate this powerful story.
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As the van comes to rest at the bottom of the mountain-side road the families take stock of the injuries and their dangerous dilemma. Finn is dead, Jack is badly injured, Bob has a broken ankle, and the others have scrapes and small injuries, none life-threatening (except Jack). Their biggest problem now is the snowstorm that is quickly enveloping the van and the road. Being found is not going to happen in the weather conditions. Also, there is no reception for cell phones.
The immediate concern is to stay warm which seems impossible since most of the group was not wearing winter gear. They were, after all, just going out to eat. Most of them do not have gloves or winter boots. Speaking of gloves, one person did have warm winter gloves. Oz is wearing his purple gloves and this will later become important.
Someone has the presence of mind to go outside the van and pack snow to cover the broken windows to keep everyone cocooned inside. It doesn’t take long for Chloe and Vance to volunteer to hike out to get help.
Hiking for Help
Chloe and Vance discover quickly that the blinding snowstorm covers even their tracks in an instant. Their journey to find help is perilous and they do not return to the van before nightfall.
By the next morning it is obvious that Jack will not survive if help does not arrive soon. Do others try to hike out to get help? What are they eating, do they have water? How are they staying warm?
Everything this group does will determine the fate of each of them. Those decisions made in an instant have devastating consequences.
Let me remind you that the narrator of the entire book is Finn. Finn, who was killed in the accident. It may seem to be a little bit of a stretch that Finn is able to flit in and out of every scene, but it is written in a plausible way. Finn’s emotions about seeing her family and her friend in pain are real and will bring tears to your eyes often.
I listened to this book (from Audible) and would recommend that to you as well. The narrator of the audiobook was really good. I felt like she was Finn.
In the end, after the trauma of the accident, and the mountain rescue, and all the recovery of the ones hurt the worst, the story becomes that of survival. It is surviving the guilt and learning which of the van’s occupants were the real heroes and which were self-serving.
But, really, if you were a mom or dad in a car full of people, who would you save? The largest portion of the book deals with that question. There are also several back-stories about each character that are woven throughout. I enjoyed this book. I am giving this one 4 stars. There is a part of the book that I thought was a little too far-fetched and you will know what it is when you get there.
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My rating system: 5 stars means perfection- the book was written well, held my attention, and I did not want it to end. 4 stars- the book was really good, but I had questions or concerns about parts of it. This might include the way it ended. 3 stars- the book was okay, but I just didn’t like it much. 2 stars- I skimmed most of it. 1 star- I could not finish it.