Agnes and Ellie were girlfriends. At the funeral of Ellie’s mother Janice, Agnes promised Ellie that she would accompany her friend when they went to scatter the mother’s ashes at the top of a mountain. Now the two girls are no longer together. Ellie has started dating a boy named Steve. He claims to be a professional climber, better able to cope with the demands of the mountain. Agnes thinks she would like to be reunited with Ellie. She also wonders what other challenges the mountain will bring. Is Steve all he seems?
Clarke’s book teases the reader. It interrogates the concept of nostalgia. That which we possessed in the past, is it really what we dream of repossessing? Or does it turn out to be something far less worthy of our desire? Steve makes impressive claims about his skills as an outdoor activist and a mountain climber. But are his claims justified by his actual skills? The familiar story of fake news may be entering the lives of these young people.
For Barrington Stoke, this has a short extent, but Clarke covers a substantial span of themes in few pages, with the same intensity as she maintains in her longer novels.