by Megan Westfield
Publisher: Entangled: Embrace
Publication Date: February 19, 2018
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Twenty-year-old Emily Winslowe has had an adventurous upbringing. Daughter of a Himalayan mountain guide, she has climbed Mount Everest and other peaks most Americans only dream of. But for all her mountaineering prowess, she's lacking some key experiences. Namely, guys. Especially one guy in particular—Luke Norgay, her childhood best friend who she hasn't seen since he left for college in the United States two years ago.
Luke unexpectedly reappears as a guide just in time for the Everest climbing season. He's even more handsome than she remembers, and that something that had been building between them during their last season together is back in front of them, bigger than ever.
The problem is, there's a detail about Emily's past that Luke doesn't know. It's the reason she ended up in the Himalayas in the first place...and the reason she must make it to the summit of Mount Everest this year. It's also the reason she would never consider following him back to Washington after the climbing season ends.
But first, they'll have to survive the mountain.
This was absolutely lovely! While I’ve read a few books about Mt. Everest before – Into Thin Air being one of them – I’m not particularly well-versed in mountaineering or rock climbing or, basically, anything outdoors that doesn’t involve tailgating. Even without that background or interest, this was completely engrossing.
“Luke was my whole world, past and present.
But he might not be my future.”
Emily is returning to Nepal for her – hopefully – historic seventh summit of Mt. Everest with her father’s expedition company. What should be an exciting time is clouded by thoughts of her future – attend college in her home state of Washington, or trying to find a sponsor to keep climbing? – and past – her childhood best friend Luke, whom she hasn’t seen for two years. When she unexpectedly runs into him before arriving at Base Camp, she’s stunned to realize that she still has a crush on him, though he’s changed in the years he’s been attending college in the US. As before, though, she’s unsure if he returns her feelings, and, even if he did, what future could they possibly have together? After a bad turn of events with her mom and grandparents, she’s spent years of her life following her dad around the world and climbing mountains. While she yearns for someplace of her own, of not having to carry around her whole life (including craft supplies!) in a backpack, of having her own home base, she also dreams of climbing new mountains.
“To get a sponsorship, I needed that seventh summit. But even then, it’s not like I’d get to the top of Mount Everest and find a magical sponsorship offer tied onto one of the prayer flags. There would still be a lot of time, work, and luck involved in this dream, and how would I pay for dinner in the meantime? How did Luke play into all this? It seemed impossible, but could he? Was there a way? And what about that white bungalow? That was a dream, too: having the permanence of a place of my own and people to come home to.”
I loved Emily. Someone on Twitter, while differentiating between young adult and new adult, described new adult as (paraphrased) “I know who I am, but how do I fit in the world?” and this book was absolute perfection for that. Emily has been shaped by the presence – and absence – of many people and things, and while she regrets that she’s not a “normal” college-age adult, she also realizes how lucky she is to have been able to pursue something that is an unattainable dream for many. And it’s not like Ms. Westfield just has Emily tell us that – Emily’s actions reflect her deeply held beliefs, even when she is sometimes unable to articulate them even to herself. I absolutely loved her journey. While I didn’t agree with some of her choices – I’ll admit to yelling at my eReader at points – I always understood why she was making them. Rather than just being a foil for Emily, Luke himself is also a fully realized character, with his own motivations and deeply held beliefs. I also loved that even when they had their disagreements – and, oh boy, did they have them, and they were some doozies – they are mature enough to realize they need cool down periods, and to see things from each other’s points of view. It was a refreshing dose of maturity that seems absent from a lot of adult novels, even, but something I found completely realistic considering these twenty-somethings were used to have other peoples’ lives literally in their hands on dangerous climbs.
Overall, I absolutely adored this book, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a thoughtful, heart wrenching new adult romance.