The Other Side of the Mountain Essay - Critical Context

E. G. Valens

Critical Context

Valens’ story of Kinmont and that of the filmmakers represent a variety of biographical approaches for the young reader to consider. Realism versus romanticism and truth versus fiction are often confusing choices when presented to young people in a transitional period of life. For Kinmont, already in her thirties when the second biography was written, the choices were clear-cut ones; reality was a consistent goal. Perhaps the lesson of the book is that decision making is made easier with education and experience.

The drama of the personal story revealed in the first book is not as evident in the second treatment. The subtleties of Kinmont’s relationship with her mother and future husband are intellectual and often philosophical, not flamboyant. The conversations and interactions among the primary persons in the biography are dramatic and vividly presented, but they do not convey the action and excitement of A Long Way Up. Much of the conflict is psychological, and discussions between Kinmont and her mother or among this young woman and her friends help to reveal her personality and accomplishments but do not create action-filled scenes. Yet the goal of presenting her story truthfully, which she did not believe was accomplished successfully in the second film, is perhaps reached in the second biographical treatment as a result of this more introspective approach.

This is a book for mature young people who are ready to consider some of the difficulties of adult life and relationships, with or without the added strain of physical disabilities. Kinmont’s success in dealing with the struggles in her life reveals much about her strength of character and continues to be an inspiration to all who know and read about her.