In this story, Reino Gevers gives us Jake, a husband whose marriage is all but dead. Believing a change of scene accompanied by athletics will relieve him of his demons, Jake decides to hike a trail in the Pyrenees Mountains. His guide in this endeavor is not the typical “no-nonsense” grizzled mountain man; instead he is part mystic/part philosopher, whose presence transforms this physical journey into a spiritual one, where Jake encounters various characters wise in the ways of cosmic information.
The genre Gevers is operating in can be tricky. Spiritual journey stories, in lesser hands, can quickly degenerate into preachy mysticism and New Age psychobabble. In addition, character can take a back seat to philosophizing that makes no sense except to the writer (George Orwell once bashed Henry Miller and the latter’s “cosmic” pronouncements for operating in a “Mickey Mouse world where ordinary rules don’t apply”).
Gevers does neither however, owing to his control of the material and his refusal to violate the cardinal rule of all types of writing: to clearly communicate with the reader. As a result, the characters Jake and his mystical guide encounter on their hike are more than mere one-dimensional oracles. Instead they emerge as characters in their own right.
In the form of Jake , readers, even those whose marriages aren’t plummeting, will stick with the protagonist on his spiritual journey. Gevers has created an “everyman” character that is dealing with the challenges of life on a day-by-day basis. Like many, Jake believes traveling will provide him with the tools to cope.
But Gevers uses the old adage of “no matter where you travel your emotional baggage comes with you.” As befits the “self-discovery” genre, Jake will, of course, encounter much weightier matters than merely trying to negotiate around the mountainous terrain.
Gevers thankfully does not provide definitive answers to age-old questions of love, how we got here and what our purpose is. Even Jake’s “self-discovery” at the end of the hike may not be for everyone. But Gevers does give readers compelling reasons for the often-clichéd assertion that one “must love themselves before they can love others.”
~Ron Capshaw for IndieReader