Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I am currently on an adult nonfiction kick, since it has been forever since we’ve had new kids books at the library (hmmmm, I wonder whose fault that is???). I just finished reading Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston, and wow…what a book!

For those of you who have never heard of Aron, he is a hiker/biker/skier/mountain climber/adrenaline junky/adventurer who fell into a desert crevice and got his hand caught between a boulder and a rock wall and was forced to amputate his own hand to survive. (I don’t think this is a spoiler because he is shown on the cover of the book with his artificial hand.) Knowing all of this before starting the book, I wondered how it would hold my attention for over 300 pages. Would the first 280 pages be worth it knowing what is coming at the end?

Well, I will say that it is definitely worth your time to pick up this book if you get the chance. The book goes back and forth between describing Aron’s predicament in great detail and sequences that describe his earlier adventures with avalanches, bears, and mountain climbing. There is also a part near the end that tells about how his family and friends tried to locate him during the many days that he was missing (one of the HUGE problems with his situation is that he never told anyone where he was going).

The parts that describe his earlier adventures are all pretty interesting. After reading about what a 27 year-old was able to accomplish in such a short period of time, I felt like a lazy lump of a person. This guy has done so many wild and crazy things and almost died on several different occasions. I found him to be kind of a cocky guy who bordered on being an a-hole in these flashbacks. This actually made the sections about being trapped in the crevice very interesting because he kind of comes to terms with his arrogance during the ordeal.

His descriptions of being trapped are very detailed and very graphic. Sometimes I was like, “Ewwwww, overshare!” but I guess that is probably why most people read the book. Even though you know exactly what’s coming, the book does build up suspense near the end. He gets trapped on a Saturday afternoon and decides it would be a miracle for him to make it to Monday. Well, it is many days AFTER Monday that he finally makes his escape. As the book got closer and closer to the end, I kept asking myself, “How is he going to do it????” He knew amputation was an option, but he didn’t have a tool sharp enough to do it. The actual solution is so brilliant and brutal and really awful to read about. But by the end of the book, you totally feel like you are trapped right there with him.

So, if you are into survival stories, or adventure, or thinking about going on a dangerous expedition on your own, I would recommend this book. But be warned….it is not for the faint of heart. I was flipping through the book and came to a section with photos. I was like, “Cool! Pictures!” Well, then I flipped to the next page and there was a picture of his severed hand still stuck to the wall!!!!!! AAAAAACCCCCKKKK!!!! I was not prepared for that.

The reason I read this book is because it is all over the media now because of the new Danny Boyle movie 127 Hours. I don’t think I could watch the movie because it will be too intense for me, but I have heard that it is remarkable. James Franco usually rubs me the wrong way, but there is something about the way he says the second “oops” in this commercial that makes me think he can pull this off in a great way.

So, are any of you brave enough to see the movie? And if you do, will you read the book first?

Jen

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7 Responses to “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”


  1. 1 Abby November 20, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Oh, I know! I haven’t read the book, but I saw previews for the movie and I can’t even imagine what that movie’s going to be like…

  2. 2 ngtjennifer November 20, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    I kept having to stop reading and put the book down while “it” was happening, so I know I would be closing my eyes in the movie (and probably plugging my ears).

  3. 3 Diana November 20, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    I’ve never read this book, but I watched 127 Hours last Saturday. It was really good! I’m a big fan of James Franco (have loved him ever since the terrific TV show Freaks and Geeks), and he did an excellent job in the movie. I wasn’t sure before the movie if I’d be able to watch the amputation scene, but it wasn’t that bad. I’m kind of proud of myself for not looking away once. All the blood didn’t bother me. Something else he was doing in that scene was more horrible. I went with two coworkers, and one turned away during the arm-cutting scene, and the other kept taking peeks. I highly recommend this movie.

  4. 4 ngtjennifer November 20, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    I think I know exactly what you mean when you say “something else.” The blood and stuff probably wouldn’t bother me either, but the other thing, whew, I don’t think I could watch someone do that.

    I’m glad you liked the movie though! I might have to check it out on DVD so I can pause and run out of the room if I want.

  5. 5 Diana November 20, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    Jennifer, in the book, does Aron talk about thinking about the future child he would have while he was trapped? In the movie, that’s what got the ball rolling, with regards to the amputation.

  6. 6 ngtlindsay November 20, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    I don’t think I could read this – knowing it happened in real life and PICTURES? GAHAHAHA!

  7. 7 ngtjennifer November 21, 2010 at 12:19 am

    Diana, there is a point in the book where he does have a vision of him holding a child and it gives him hope, but that doesn’t last very long. It is not the catalyst for his amputation, but I can see why they would use that in the movie.


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