Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

E. G. Valens’ A Long Way Up: The Story of Jill Kinmont begins with the story of the active life of a champion skier who is full of excitement and speed and concludes with the description of a disabled young woman who meets continued challenges and achieves many of her goals. As Valens recounts Kinmont’s story, her life and activities become vivid for the reader. From the cold chill of a predawn climb before the days of mechanical ski lifts to the harsh lighting and brisk, businesslike tone of the hospital setting, Valens succeeds in making the reader part of Kinmont’s world. The Kinmont family ranch in California serves as both the base for her ski adventures and the oasis to which she returns after her rehabilitation. The orderly progression of the story contrasts with the upheaval in Kinmont’s life after her accident. Twenty-four chapters describe ten years of being on an emotional rollercoaster. The book falls naturally into two parts, as Valens describes the life of a young woman from California in the 1950’s who began her teenage years as an athlete and entered her twenties as a physically disabled student and teacher.

This biography was written in response to the intense public interest in Kinmont and her life before and after her skiing accident. She was profiled extensively in the popular press and sports magazines, Life magazine conducted follow-up interviews in 1964, and other publishers requested a full chronicle of...

(The entire section is 491 words.)