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?