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Publisher's Summary

It is mid-October, 1997, harvest time in the Columbia Basin of central Washington state, a rich apple- and pear-growing region. Ben Givens, recently widowed, is a retired heart surgeon, once admired for his steadiness of hand, his precision, his endurance. He has terminal colon cancer. While Ben does not readily accept defeat, he is determined to avoid suffering rather than engage it. And so, accompanied by his two hunting dogs, he sets out through the mythic American West-sage deserts, yawning canyons, dusty ranches, vast orchards-on his last hunt.

The main issues for Ben as a doctor had been tactical and so it would be with his death. But he hadn't considered the persuasiveness of memory - the promise he made to his wife Rachel, the love of his life, during World War II. Or life's mystery. On his journey he meets a young couple who are "forever," a drifter offering left-handed advice that might lessen the pain, a veterinarian with a touch only a heart surgeon would recognize, a rancher bent on destruction, a migrant worker who tests Ben's ability to understand. And just when he thinks there is no turning back, nothing to lose that wasn't lost, his power of interventions is called upon and his very identity tested.

Full of humanity, passion, and moral honesty, East of the Mountains is a bold and beautiful novel of personal discovery.

©1999 David Guterson; (P)1999 Random House, Inc., Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, A Division of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • Winner of Audio Publishers Association 2000 Audie Award, Fiction, Abridged

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall

Well written and beautifully read.

Although I was a bit put off by the premise of a dying man going off to commit suicide in the mountains (sounds depressing, doesn't it?) I continued listening because the writing and reading were so good. I am very glad that I stuck with it. The story spirals marvelously from despair to redemption, and Herrmann's voice enhances the richness of the writing.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Wonderful book - very moving story.

I don't read (or listen to) many works of fiction. Non-fiction is usually my first choice. But I love this narrator and this book was just wonderful. The references to WWII and the way the story moved back and forth with ease between present day and the main character's memories as a young man made it such an interesting and heart warming story. Clearly well-researched, the book kept me up late at night because I didn't want to stop listening. As a daughter, I was often left thinking about how my own dad might react to a diagnosis of cancer. This story has some sad moments but I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it.