- Author: Bill Rancic, Barbara Keel
- Performed by Julia Whelan, Kaleo Griffith
- Released: November 2016 by Penguin Audio
- Category: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
A father from Chicago takes a road trip to the city of Whitehorse, in Yukon Territory, with his wife and son. During the car ride, they reveal to the boy their harrowing experience surviving a horrific plane crash in the wilderness ten years before, which is how the boy, in fact, came to be born.
When the invitation arrived to attend a ceremony about to be held in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, honouring the victims and survivors of the plane crash that almost cost the lives of his family, he decided it was time. His son deserved to know what happened to his parents. The trip will take several days by car, neither he nor Kerry would get on a plane again. They can use the time to tell Jackson the whole story.
His mom looks at him, then at me. “They might seem like secrets, but we don’t think of them that way. It’s just some things we’ve been waiting to tell you when the time was right. Grown-up things, I guess you could say.”
I’ve rehearsed this speech over and over on nights when I couldn’t sleep, starting when Jackson was a baby curled in his crib. You have to understand, I always start in my imagination. We all thought we were going to die. Some of us did die. And the things we did in order to live…none of it will ever be completely understandable to someone who wasn’t there. But I have to try to make you see why it matters. Because if I don’t, then what was it we were trying so hard to live for?
The story then takes us back in time. Daniel Albrecht and Kerry Egan are both working for Petrol, with Daniel the head of the crisis management team. There’s been an explosion on one of Petrol’s oil platforms in Alaska, and several workers have died. Daniel and his crew need to shut down the leak, reduce the environmental impact as much as possible and offer any help they can to the families of the dead workers.
As the weather worsens with a snow storm imminent, Daniel wants to wait it out before they leave Alaska and head back to Chicago, where he and Kerry, who is pregnant, plan to marry. Bob Packer, Daniel’s boss’, has the final say and they leave. Not long into their flight the engines fail and send the plane diving into the side of a mountain, splitting it in two. Kerry is badly injured and with no sign of the storm abating, consequently there would be no attempted rescue mission, it becomes obvious their chances of survival are diminishing rapidly. Daniel takes matters into his own hands, hampered by his overbearing and stubborn boss.
The narrative alternates between past and present with the present told from the first person perspective of Jackson’s dad, the rest in the third person. The setting, crash and its aftermath is described in realistic detail. The horrors, emotions and physical suffering of the survivors is convincing enough to be able to imagine being in that terrifying situation.
A gripping tale of survival against extreme odds and the powerful forces of nature, with tragedy and romance woven into the story….and a reveal I didn’t see coming. Excellent narration by Julia Whelan and Kaleo Griffith.