“Leepike Ridge” is a young adult adventure novel about an eleven-year-old boy named Thomas Hammond. His father passed away a couple of years previously and he lives with his mother in a house that is chained to the top of a mountain so it won’t slide off. They love their rural house but the appliance deliverymen don’t care for it – power surges are frequent and every time they have one, their refrigerator goes out. Sure enough, the deliverymen have to lug a new fridge up that mountain with regularity. They aren’t amused.
Thomas is also not amused that Jeffrey, a teacher from his own school, has been coming around an awful lot to court his mother. His feelings are still tender from his father’s death, and while he knows his mother will move on someday, he can’t stand that it’s happening so soon. Plus, Jeffrey’s just not the kind of guy he can see his mother with.
One day, after the latest refrigerator delivery, Thomas is outside playing with the box the fridge came in. A large piece of foam lined the box on one side, and he discovers he can float on it down the river that flows past their house. Before he knows it, though, the river takes him down a fall and under the lip of a ledge, and he is stuck in an underground cavern. There is no way to climb back out the way he got in, and his situation is made even worse when he discovers the corpse of a man who also wandered in and couldn’t get out.
After exploring his surroundings, Tom makes a discovery – another man, but this time, a living, breathing one, named Reg. This man has been living trapped inside the mountain for years but has managed to stay alive, catching crawdads and using whatever litter is swept in by the river to make utensils. Tom stays with Reg for a while, chafing against the idea of having to live under the mountain forever, and the two of them cook up a plan to escape.
A mystery and some danger surround the story, and in the end, a secret is revealed that rocks Tom and his mother. A wonderful, adventurous story, I really liked “Leepike Ridge.”
(This book was published in 2007 by Random House.)