Book Review: Holding Fast by Karen James

I recently read Holding Fast: The Untold Story of the Mount Hood Tragedy by Karen James. I received this book as part of Thomas Nelson’s blogger book review program.

In December 2006, three climbers lost their lives during a terrible storm on Mt Hood in Oregon. One of the climbers was named Kelly James. His wife, Karen, is the author of this book. When I first learned of the book, I was excited to read it. I typically enjoy books such as this that recount actual events in a novel form.

Unfortunately, this book fell flat for me because it was not what I thought it purported to be. The subtitle for the book is The Untold Story of the Mount Hood Tragedy. I don’t think that this is accurate. This book is not about the tragedy, but instead is about Karen James’s loss of her husband in a mountain climbing accident. As the story of a wife who loses her husband on the mountain, who waits in fear and anticipation with here family, and who finds solace and comfort in her relationship with God, this is a great story. It just should have been billed in that manner.

With respect to the tragedy, the book falls short, however, in that it barely devotes any time to the other two climbers who perished on the mountain. Besides finding out that one of the climbers was a close friend of Kelly’s and that they met the third climber during a different mountain climb, the other climbers get virtually no mention.

One aspect of the book that I really enjoyed was the number of pictures. The center of the book contains several pages of color photographs, including several from Kelly’s camera that was recovered with his body. Additionally, there were many additional photographs sprinkled throughout the text of the book. I thought this method of sprinkling the photos throughout the book worked really well and added to the book.

In sum, if you want a book about a wife’s journey in losing her husband to a terrible tragedy, this book addresses that perfectly. If you want a book that addresses the tragedy suffered by the climbers, then you probably want to take a pass.