Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Review: Tears of the Mountain by John Addiego

Tears of the MountainFrom the Back Cover:

Tears of the Mountain chronicles a single day in one man's life - July 4, 1876 - along with a series of alternating flashbacks beginning in 1831 that all lead up to an eventful Centennial Independence Day celebration in Sonoma, California.

Jeremiah McKinley prepares for the celebration and for a reunion with old friends and family, however, as he reflects on past love, the pioneer journey of his youth, and the many violent conflicts of the West, voices of the long dead come to him, and old wounds resurface, threatening everything he holds dear.

Jeremiah McKinley wakes up on the fourth of July looking forward to a hard-earned day of leisurely celebration and reflection with his family. But Jeremiah has lived an adventurous life, sometimes intentional and often times not, so it stands to reason that the most anticipated day of celebration in the young country's history shouldn't be any different.

The day begins with the arrival of a little boy with his family from San Francisco, a little boy who claims he is Jeremiah's deceased father, Daniel. Shortly thereafter Jeremiah receives a message containing a cryptic warning. As much as Jeremiah would like to write off both incidents as practical jokes, increasingly alarming events continue to unfold throughout the day as both friends and enemies from his past gather to celebrate the Centennial.

As Jeremiah tries to figure out who is behind the ominous warnings and how the child knows so much about his father, he reflects on his youth and the backstory of how these people now gathered in Sonoma came to know each other emerges, seamlessly woven through the timeline of early California history: from the first white settlers to the Bear Revolution, to the Gold Rush, and the displacement and subjugation of the native population. Echoes of these past events manifest in the strange events of the Fourth of July and an increasing sense of urgency and suspense builds as Jeremiah realizes the family he's always wanted and finally has could be in real danger.

Overall this book is a great read. Jeremiah is an infinitely likeable character, a mild-mannered schoolteacher and family man, honorable and courageous, shaped by a series of events and life lessons depicted in vivid detail. I love reading about pioneer life and the descriptions of the young Jeremiah's journey overland from Missouri to California, and the encounters with wildlife, Indians, and mother nature do not disappoint.

If I have any complaints at all it would be with the pacing of the story. The book spends a lot of time on Jeremiah's young adulthood and then seems to run out of room and has to squeeze the preceding twenty years of his life into a few pages, along with the culmination of the present-day plotline. I also found the ending to come a little rushed and a bit out of nowhere, but it was not a disappointing ending and the build-up to that point was very enjoyable. Recommended for fans of exciting and descriptive historical fiction, particularly anyone who'd like to learn more about early California history.

Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

*Please note: This review references an advance copy received from the publisher, and therefore the final published copy may differ. Though I received this book from the publisher, these are my honest and unbiased thoughts, and I was not compensated in any other way for reviewing this book.

*This review will also be posted as a Guest Review on Royal Reviews.


  1. I would like to read this, I love California history as well.

  2. This sounds like a wonderful read! I'm going to check it out on Goodreads!

    Julie @ Knitting and Sundries


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