I love books. I love getting lost in someone else's story, understanding the thoughts and emotions of a writer, feeling connected to someone you don't even know. My favourite books are those that incite these very feelings; books that I can't get out of my mind, can't put down for being so excited to hear what will happen next. I'd gotten out of the habit of reading at the beginning of this year, always finding something else to do - using the excuse that I was 'just too busy'. In actuality, all it took was a book to engross me to make me addicted to reading again. Instead of scrolling mindlessly through Instagram in the evenings, I savoured those moments of silence - curling up with End of the Rope and finding out what new adventures Jan would get up to. End of the Rope is another outdoor-adventure book, this time about a female climber. Yet it is much more than just that. Let me tell you why I loved this book so much...
End of the Rope is an autobiographical novel about a Canadian female climber, mountain lover, and honest human, Jan Redford. The book follows the beginnings of Jan's love of climbing as a young girl, leading on to her adventures as a mountain guide, the honest thoughts and often heartbreaks of relationships, starting a family and the joys it brings her, the struggles to go back to university and attain a degree, and all alongside a very honest passion and fear for a life of climbing in the mountains. The book is raw, real, and addictive, and resonated with so many of my own thoughts and emotions.
I've already told you that I could hardly put this book down, let me explain why. At first, Jan is a young, gritty, often bolshy woman. She has grown up with her own family troubles - an alcoholic father who she constantly seeks approval from, parents who aren't in love, and the repercussions of that in Jan's own life become evident throughout the book. This makes for a very honest account of Jan's own feelings in certain scenarios; relationships she struggles with, friendships she savours. Jan isn't afraid to tell you the honest details and innermost thoughts of her mind. I love that.
From that young, bolshy woman, we discover Jan's own weaknesses in relationships - seeking love, reassurance, and approval from a partner is something she writes about a lot. This is something she sees in both a positive and negative light, and which at points left me in floods of tears. Hardships seem to follow Jan, yet she always appears strong and honest about those struggles; battling between what she wants from her own life, and the responsibility to look after her young family. You find yourself always rooting for Jan, whether it be when climbing up a wall, or in taking control of her own life.
Interspersed with real aspects of life, relationships, and family is a love for the mountains, climbing, and the friendships it has brought. Indeed, the mountains seem to be a source of deep passion for Jan; bringing her greatest highs and deepest lows. Yet she will constantly return to them. I think this is something that resonates with all mountain lovers. Those dark, oppressive, and often terrifying masses of rock and snow are somehow so very addictive. It is in the way that nature has complete control; when within them, you are a slave to the elements. At times I think this reflects Jan's own life - she becomes trapped within the constraints of a relationship and life path that she doesn't want, and it is the taking control of that that allows her to be free. Like summiting a mountain or learning to lead climb again, Jan must conquer her own life - she must lead and not follow.
For any mountain lovers - especially female; for anyone who loves climbing or being outside; for anyone who loves reading real, honest books and saying 'me too' a thousand times' for anyone who isn't afraid to cry at a book and to be deeply affected by a person you don't know. End of the Rope is for you. I hope it resonates with you as it did with me.