Reading Group Guide
1. The Mountain Between Us is an adventure story, a story of survivial, and above all a love story. By the end of the novel what do we learn about the author’s views of love? Is there such a thing as a perfect marriage? What do Ben and Ashley learn from the pilot, Grover, about the nature of enduring love? Is that a lesson that stays with them throughout the book? In your experience does marriage get better? What makes a great marriage?
2. After the crash, Ben and Ashley are stranded at 11,500 feet, fifty miles from any kind of civilization with no hope of rescue, she with a broken leg, he with three busted ribs and a possible collapsed lung, and minimal supplies … yet they survive for more than four weeks in these extreme conditions. What skills and character traits do you think helped ensure their survival? Did you find the story credible?
3. Was Ben to blame at any point for what happened? Should he have hired the charter plane to take them out in the coming storm? During their time on the mountain, what choices did Ben make? Do you believe he made the right choices? What would you have done in his place?
4. We learn about Ben’s wife mostly through the recordings she made on Ben’s Dictaphone. Is she a strong presence in the book? What kind of person was she? What made her so special to Ben?
5. Ben refers to himself as “a bit of an emotional blockhead” (page 119). Why do you think he finds it so difficult to come to terms with his “separation” from his wife, Rachel? What part did his childhood experiences play in his emotional development?
6. In the most difficult times on the mountain, when Ashley and Ben are losing hope of survival, how do they keep themselves going? What was the most difficult part of their ordeal? If you were in their position, what would you have done? Do you think you would have made it home alive?
7. How does Ben and Ashley’s time on the mountain change their perspective on life? Does it make them see any more clearly? Are their lives irrevocably changed by the experience? In what ways?
8. Were you surprised by the revelation about Ben’s family life at the end of the book? How did the discovery make you feel? Looking back through the book, did the author lay any clues for the reader along the way?
9. Ben uses his Dictaphone to communicate with his wife. What do you learn about Rachel from his recordings? Do you think this technique works as a narrative device? What does it say about the way we communicate with our loved ones today? Why did Ben throw the Dictaphone into the ocean at the end of the book?
10. What is the significance of the title? What is “the mountain between us”?
11. In the author’s note, Charles references one of the most beautiful Bible verses: I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come … What part does religious faith play in this novel? Do you think the author’s own optimism is derived from his faith in God?
The Mountain Between Us
- Publication Date: June 28, 2011
- Genres: Fiction
- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Broadway
- ISBN-10: 0767927028
- ISBN-13: 9780767927024