Generously donated by a Redditor, our new book is called A Mountain To Climb.
This book was written by Eva Maxson. A thorough google search shows that she was a missionary in South America at some point. Maxson wrote a letter to the editor stating that even though the Review often came late, it was still relevant. She is listed as being from Honduras. Maxson also wrote a little devotional story in These Times, October 1952. It’s not particularly relevant, but those 2 things are the only things I’ve been able to find out about her.
This book is supposed to be a true story. I could believe that it is based on one, at the very least.
There’s a little disclaimer in the front that I’d like to point out:
This book is part of the Pacific Press Heritage Project, a plan to republish classic books from our historical archives and to make valuable books available once more. The content of this book is presented as it was originally published and should be read with its original publication date in mind.
A little below that are the words:
Originally published in 1976.
You know what, fair enough.
I spent a lot of time complaining about OBAM and OBAW being republished with a new publication date slapped on it without any disclaimer that this might be outdated information. You will not see me complain about that here, because the disclaimer exists.
However, despite the fact that this was originally published in 1976, the story itself actually takes place in the 1930s. The year 1937 is mentioned, but we don’t get to find that out until 3/4 of the way through the book, and so I will take the disclaimer at its word and judge it from the perspective of the 1970s.
That being said, the 1970s had their problems, and we will be pointing them out. The book does not get a free pass just because it’s “historical.” Frankly, I’m not even sure why this book got republished. Was this one particularly popular? If it was, why have I only just now heard of it? Can’t they write new books?
Not A Drop More
Right off the bat we come to some weird ass shit:
The sun was just streaming over the Maracai-boan hills when Pearl Lindsay’s mother entered the bedroom, carrying a glass of warm blood.
“Pearl,” she called a bit sharply, “here’s your morning cocktail.”
Whoa whoa whoa whoa wait. Slow down. Blood? The author of this book is aware that it’s the Bloody Mary that is a morning cocktail, right? Not actual blood?
Pearl drinks the blood (bloody Mary?), and afterwards her mother says she thinks she and Pearl should leave. Pearl asks her mother if she’s gone mad, but her mother is serious. Pearl’s mother refers to her as “child.”
It irked Pearl to be called a child when she was all of 21.
I like this. It tells us Pearl’s age in a way that doesn’t feel clunky and forced. If the author of this book had not grown up Adventist, she probably would have made at least a half decent writer.
“Now look, Pearl, you know you aren’t getting much better. After all this horrible blood you’ve been drinking every morning, your anemia has barely improved. I think we should go back to Barbados.”
So, it is confirmed that it is actual blood Pearl is drinking, not just a Bloody Mary.
Here’s the thing. I googled this shit. I can not find anything about anyone prescribing a glass of blood every day for anemia. Not in the 1930s and not even in the 1930s in South America. Certainly it would not have been a think in 1976 when this was published.
Now, that might not mean much. There might be something I’m just not finding… but I think whoever Pearl and her mother saw was a quack, even by 1930s standards.
Pearl’s mother tells her that her health is the most important thing, and being here, wherever here is, isn’t helping. She leaves the room, and Pearl thinks about it.
Leave Maracaibo! Leave her job as a bilingual secretary? Leave the boss who was so kind to her?….
Is there a reason Pearl has to leave Maracaibo? I mean, yes, she needs to stop drinking blood, but is there a particular reason that in order to do so she has to leave Maracaibo? She has a decent job, a good boss, and lots of friends.
She thought of the good times she and the other girls had had, especially the dances in this very house where they would roll up the carpet, turn on the gramophone, and dance until they were all danced out.
Ouch. Poor Pearl. She is going to have to give that up if she converts.
The lovely clothes she had been able to buy with her ample salary…
If Pearl has such an ample salary, can’t she just like, stop drinking blood and go to a real doctor, all without leaving Maracaibo?
I mean, these are all very good reasons not to leave.
She hated that medicine. She didn’t want to swallow another drop ever. She remembered how horrified she had been when the doctor ordered her to drink a glass of warm blood from a freshly killed animal every morning.
Well, that answered my other burning question about the, er, morning cocktail.
Pearl decides that her mother is right, but isn’t sure they should go to Barbados. It’s where she and her mother used to live, and she reminisces a bit about her old home. I like this. It tells us where Pearl is from and it’s not too horribly clunky. If the rest of this book wasn’t so shitty, I’d think of filing this in the “not so bad” category.
Pearl puts on clothes and goes down to breakfast. She sees her mother cooking, ponders for a bit about how good her mother is, and then asks her mother when they leave.
“Just as soon as we can make proper arrangements,” her mother said.
And with Alwilda Lindsay’s efficiency, arrangements were soon made. 2 weeks later, as the boat pulled out of the harbor, Pearl and her mother stood side by side on the deck.
“It’s been a happy 8 years, hasn’t it?”
This….isn’t too bad. It tells us that they have been in Maracaibo for 8 years… but holy heck, Pearl’s been drinking blood every day for the last 8 years??? It took them that long to notice she wasn’t getting better?
We still do not get an explanation of why it was necessary for Pearl and her mother to move to Barbados in order to stop drinking blood.
I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence.
Pearl’s mother says she’ll miss her friends, “especially those of the church.” This is clunky, and I’m not sure what it means exactly. Which church? I thought at first it must be an Adventist church, but Pearl and her mom don’t meet up with the Adventists until much much later.
Pearl and her mother talk a little bit about how God has always taken care of them, and only he knows what lies ahead.
“One thing I’m sure of,” says Pearl’s mother. “You’ll get over this anemia.”
Which isn’t a terrible place to end a chapter. I mean, this is sort of a cliffhanger. Will Pearl find a competent doctor who can prescribe some kind of iron for her? Will Pearl and her mother fit back in in their Barbados home?
We’ll find out next time.