Ben Givens is a retired heart surgeon who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Deciding to take charge of his own demise, Ben travels into the wild country of Washington state with his two dogs and his father's Winchester, to hunt one last time and then to end his life on his own terms. But, as with all quests, the Fates intervene. A car wreck introduces him to various helpers and hindrances, and gradually Ben undertakes a journey back through his own past. As he nears the apple-growing country in which he grew up, he recalls the signal events of his youth and manhood-especially his wartime experiences and his profound love for his wife of fifty years. Ben is transformed into an American Odysseus as he confronts the many sides of his own nature in a novel that radiates with the glories of the natural world and the mysterious permutations of the human heart.
"East of the Mountains is not about the courage it takes to die, but the courage it takes to live, and Guterson depicts this moral and spiritual struggle with a clear-eyed intensity and intelligence."—Chicago Tribune
"The writing is wonderful throughout. . . . Heartfelt, engaging and well drawn."—The Miami Herald
"Wonderfully written, tender towards its characters, and full of incident and insight."—Men's Journal
"It is a strikingly joyful book and a monumental achievement."—The Philadelphia Inquirer