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In High Places [Hardcover]

By Tom Morrisey (Author)
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Item description for In High Places by Tom Morrisey...

A Breath From Tragedy, a Whisper from Glory

For Patrick Nolan, every climb tells a story. And now maybe it's his own ?. He's right at the rim, staring over the cliff's knife edge and wondering how things went wrong so quickly.

It all started after arriving home from a weekend climbing trip with his father, Kevin. That's when word reached them. In a silent moment, they'd lost the person most important to them?her death raising unanswerable questions and dangerous doubts.

Launching a new life in a new town to escape their pain, son and father find themselves in danger of being torn apart forever. As his father seeks a route to solace on the dangerous high face of the rock, Patrick finds a path to hope with the unlikeliest of allies?a pastor's daughter. Together they must discover the one answer that can bring Patrick and Kevin back from the brink of the precipice

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Bethany House
Pages   320
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6.1" Height: 1.3"
Weight:   1.15 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Mar 31, 2007
ISBN  0764203460  
ISBN13  9780764203466  

Availability  0 units.

More About Tom Morrisey

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Tom Morrisey is a mountaineer, aviator, shipwreck diver, and explorer, who holds a Full Cave certification from the National Speleological society - Cave Diving Section. He has launched, edited or contributed to numerous national publications and is an award-winning adventure travel writer. A popular speaker, he is also active in both youth and prison ministry. Morrisey earned an MFA in creative writing from Bowling Green State University, and his fiction has been featured in numerous anthologies and magazines. His previous novel, Yucatan Deep, was a 2003 finalist for the Christy Award. He and his family live in Orlando, Florida.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Fiction > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Fiction

Christian Product Categories
Books > Fiction > General Christian > Contemporary

Reviews - What do customers think about In High Places?

In High Places quick review  Jun 27, 2007
Just started the book. Another great novel by Tom Morrisey! He writes about
another one of his passions, climbing. His books on diving are also excellent
and have a Christian theme interwoven in them while being thoroughly
entertaining reading.
N. Young
I can't wait to see what he has next.  Jun 6, 2007
Tom Morrisey's best novel to date, IN HIGH PLACES, cost me a good night's sleep and a set of chewed-off fingernails. As a young boy's coming-of-age story, it is superb; as a suspense-filled cliffhanger (pardon the pun), it will keep you on the edge of your seat. I found I couldn't put it down until the very last page.

In several previous novels such as YUCATAN DEEP and DEEP BLUE, Morrisey (executive editor of Sport Diver magazine) took readers under the water in scuba thrillers. This time, he takes the adventures topside. Morrisey poignantly unfolds the first-person story of Patrick Nolan, a 16-year-old rock climber who returns from a father-and-son climbing trip to his home in Toledo to discover his mother's apparent suicide. Patrick and his dad leave Toledo to open a climbing shop in West Virginia, where Patrick must grow up fast in matters of family, faith and love.

Morrisey has always been a good adventure writer (his work has appeared in the adventurer's Bible --- Outside magazine --- as well as other publications). What sets this book apart from Morrisey's previous efforts is the appealing first-person point of view, strong, tight editing, refusal to succumb to clichés and lovely prose. His chapters begin and end so compellingly, you can't help but turn the pages.

The opening lines are especially beautiful, almost poetic:

"It was not the rock --- it was never the rock; it was the air. Air: gusts and threads of it, rustling my hair at the edge of my faded red rugby shirt collar. Air: swaying the thin red climbing rope that dropped beneath me in a single, brief, pendulous loop. Air all around me and above me and behind me, open and empty and unsubstantial, drying the sweat on my dread-paled, beardless face, an entire sea of air, an ocean of it, lying vacantly beneath my jutting, quaking heels."

If you're not a climber (like me) you'll struggle a bit with the plethora of gear, technical terms and climbing lingo. The epigrams of gear drawings and their uses at the beginning of each chapter lend insight, but most non-climbers will skim some of the climbing jargon as they read. For climbers, however, this might well be the meat of the book. Even non-climbers though will enjoy some of the catchy names of various rock face climbs ("Ye Gods and Little Fishes," "Thin Man") and glimpses into a world that us vertically-challenged folks may never explore.

One of the final and succinct but devastating scenes of the novel takes place at K2, a climbing venue I had just read about in detail in the fascinating THREE CUPS OF TEA. Morrisey's book will remind readers of a very abbreviated version of Jon Krakauer's INTO THIN AIR, with all the attendant disasters that climbing can bring.

I think I'd know a Morrisey novel anywhere by the inclusion of at least one character wearing Ray Bans (does he get endorsement credit for this from the company?), although he's much more restrained about brand names in this novel than in previous ones. Most impressively, Morrisey eschews the easy Christian fiction ending without eschewing faith. This is not one of those happily-ever-after tales; there are no assurances that right choices have been made. Unlike some previous books, where Morrisey tended to be a little preachy, he strikes a good balance of faith themes with reality. Choices, after all, have consequences. And there are regrets when we make the wrong ones and our lives turn out differently than we expected. But, as he writes in the final scene, "Sometimes, hope is all we have. And sometimes, hope is enough."

Morrisey has taken a giant step forward with this novel. I can't wait to see what he has next.

--- Reviewed by Cindy Crosby
Detail-rich story  Jun 1, 2007
In High Places by Tom Morrisey is a story about rock climbing, and climbing over life's unexpected rocks. Patrick Nolan didn't think he'd come back from a rock climbing trip with his dad to find out that his mother had committed suicide. He also didn't expect to start his life over in West Virginia, or to find a beautiful girl. Life isn't always what we expect, but readers can feel the hope that exists throughout this book, a hope that is more than enough.

Morrisey brings readers into the valley of Seneca Rocks, in the rolling hills of West Virginia, and teaches them how to rock climb. He explains things while Patrick and his father make their many climbing excursions, so that any readers who have no experience with rock climbing will feel as though they are experts. While his description is vivid and entangling, the journey he sends Patrick on is even more complicated.

After his mother's death, Patrick and his father relocate to Seneca Rocks, West Virginia. As a part of starting over, his father opens up a store for rock climbers and people involved in other outdoor hobbies. Both men are trying to cope with their loss and are left wondering why there weren't any signs to warn them. Patrick worries about his dad when his dad starts taking very risky climbs. One morning Patrick runs into a girl. He is taken by her with his first look. She tells him to come with her and the next thing he knows, he's dressed in his hiking shorts while attending a very conservative Baptist church service. There he finds out that the girl, Rachel, is the pastor's daughter. The story moves quickly, uncovering clues of his mother's death, expanding the relationship between Patrick and Rachel, and revealing another relationship that Patrick begins to explore with God.

At first glance, this book looks like it's a book for guys, but anyone who loves a story deep with characters will easily relate. The first person narrative also appeals to people who enjoy reading memoirs. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a detail-rich story with plot depth. It is a great narrative of the hope we have and the journey it takes to find it. [...]
A rocky coming-of-age tale  May 23, 2007
Reviewed by Tyler R. Tichelaar for Reader Views (5/07)

"In High Places" by Tom Morrisey opens with Patrick Nolan and his father, Kevin, bonding as father and son during a rock climbing expedition at Seneca Rocks in West Virginia in 1976. The opening is a bit too filled with rock-climbing terminology, but if the reader is patient, within a few pages, the novel draws us in as Patrick and Kevin return home, only to discover Patrick's mother has died, apparently by committing suicide.

Patrick and Kevin's grief is tremendous, but as men, they find themselves unable to discuss it with one another. The reader is aware both are silently suffering, not knowing how to comfort each other, and their lack of belief in God makes it more difficult for them to find solace for their pain.

Unable to live in their home because it reminds them too much of their lost loved one, Patrick's father decides they will return to Seneca Rocks and open up a shop selling climbing equipment. This new life keeps them busy and helps them forget their grief for a short time.

The plot becomes complicated when Patrick meets and falls in love with Rachel, a preacher's daughter. When the preacher and Patrick's father meet, the preacher tries to talk to Kevin about God and Heaven, but Kevin's father becomes angry, refusing to believe in a God who would allow his wife to commit suicide.

Some readers may be turned off that "In High Places" is clearly a Christian book, but Kevin Nolan's questioning of God made me feel the book was not trying to preach or convince the reader of the truths of Christianity. Instead, it asked a legitimate question about why God would allow bad things to happen to good people. The book does not give easy answers; even when Patrick learns more about the details surrounding his mother's death, the novel does not seek to answer the question of why God allowed his mother to die. Rather than bring simple closure, the book opens up layers of complexity regarding the human condition and human behavior; it explores the difficulties and unanswerable reasons behind why people love and hurt each other. The book is hopeful, but the hopefulness is mixed with a strong realism throughout.

I think Morrisey handles the difficult questions and situations he creates with great maturity and tactfulness. I especially admired his decision to tell the story from Patrick's perspective, which allowed for all the questioning of a teenage boy, making the novel a story of a father-son relationship, a coming of age story, and a love story combined.

I have always thought rock-climbing would be fun, but the book's descriptions of the complexities of rock-climbing made me think I should stick to reading books. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the descriptions of the activity, which clearly Morrisey is an expert in. Whether or not the reader is a Christian, "In High Places" will appeal to a wide audience, especially male readers, who will enjoy a father-son story where the male characters act with maturity and respect toward each other. Many young men would do well to model themselves upon the character of Patrick. This book would make a great gift for Father's Day or to a teenage or college-age boy. "In High Places" has made me want to read more of Morrisey's books.
In High Places is my personal pick for best book of the year.   May 9, 2007
Review by David White

In High Places is not an average coming of age story. It's a story of continued hope and faith made real by the fact that even years later the narrator continues to struggle with those events.

Set against the backdrop of the beautiful Seneca Rocks in West Virginia in 1976, we're introduced to our main character, Patrick, and his father as they climb. At first it seems like an adventure story, giving an intimate account of what it's like to be a climber. In High Places does indeed give its readers an in-depth look into the life of a climber, sharing the experience with unexpected clarity and honesty.

The death, an apparent suicide, of Patrick's mother causes Patrick's father to move from their home in Ohio to Seneca permanently, where they set up a small climbing shop and can escape their pain. Of course, their loss follows them, and while Patrick's father only finds solace by making terrifying solo climbs, Patrick is befriended by the beautiful Rachel who helps him make a new life for himself.

Of course, Rachel is not any beautiful girl; she's a pastor's daughter, and religious folks have always been viewed with skepticism in Patrick's family. His infatuation brings him back to church week after week with even more frequent visits to her house. Patrick's conversion is not miraculous. If anything, it is accidental. It's his father's reaction that is of Patrick's greatest concern.

Revelations about Patrick's mother's death, and the faith she apparently came to just before it, brings about two major shifts in the novel. While both draw Rachel and Patrick closer together, they also bring unexpected consequences. If anything, In High Places is about such consequences. These revelations and Patrick's actions in response to them pushes Patrick's father from a kind of reckless sadness to anger, and then, perhaps, to hope.

But actions have consequences, not only for Patrick's father but for Patrick and Rachel as well. Once their relationship reaches its climax, it's never quite the same again, and apparently neither is Patrick. But In High Places is a book about hope above all else. There is hope for Patrick, Rachel, and, most of all, for Patrick's father.

This book is one that will cause conflict in the reader's emotions; it will make him question what happens as surely as if it were his own life. From a personal standpoint, I thought that this book held an attraction for me because it took place only fifty miles or so from where I grew up, but now I know that Tom Morrisey's writing, with its honesty and liveliness, is what made it truly gripping. In High Places is my personal pick for best book of the year.

In High Places shows so clearly that there is no hope without fear of disappointment. As Rachel once points out, movies have a tendency to make people think that things turn out as they should regardless of the actions of the characters. This is a trap into which In High Places never falls, but there is always hope.

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