I Heard The Alps Call His Name by Madelyn June Jorgensen

I have this dilemma when it comes to reviewing a memoir: should I write mainly about the narrative, or the book itself, or maybe about the author? It is always easier to evaluate and discuss fiction, politics, history, etc. When it comes to a personal story, and especially a very sad and heartbreaking one, how does a reviewer deal with it? Does one have any moral right to have an opinion, good or bad, about anyone else’s private life? – By all means, this is a Hamletian question.

Unlike a novel, a memoir is predominantly about one or more profiles and what made it possible for something to happen, not about what happened. Good memoirs allow us to see into people’s minds and teach us empathy and compassion. Today I am going to do my best and write about I Heard The Alps Call His Name – a delicate but very inspiring and empowering narrative, one of those books that teach us something: like Cicero said, ‘While there’s life, there’s hope.’

“Alone in my childhood room, tears rolled down onto the pillow in small pools, then disappeared into the soft cotton, gone forever into the depths of linen and foam. Was it similar to my own life? My son disappearing, never to be seen again? I asked my spiritual God why this had happened, and waited for an answer.”

Everyday we hear people saying: ‘I can only imagine how awful …’ No, ladies and gentlemen, none of us can imagine what is in a mother’s heart when she unexpectedly walks into an empty house – that initial shock of disbelief, followed by hysteria, denial, heartache, grief, anger, bitterness, and, worst of all, the feeling of helplessness when she learns there are not enough necessary international legal instruments to get her son back to Canada from Switzerland, where her ex-husband illegally took the child without her consent. Modern psychologists seem to agree upon one thing: parental child stealing is essentially another form of child abuse, and it leaves scars on both the victim and the parent left behind. This thought alone is enough to push anyone over the edge.

Her mother’s unconditional love is beyond doubt in this novel. Madelyn Jorgensen heart-wrenchingly remembers and describes, in every detail, a toy train set after more than forty years. And yes, it was her love for her son Marcus that kept her alive and sane, able to fly thousands of miles from the Rocky Mountains to the Alps while fiercely fighting the agony. Maybe, in a way, it was also a journey of healing. Despite the trauma and all the difficulties, June will never forget her son’s words:

“You always were my mother. A light at the end of a dark tunnel.”

While I acknowledge that many couples make mistakes and bad choices, and some no longer wish to live together and seek a legal separation or divorce, the panic, pain or confusion of their children should be something they aim to avoid at all costs. 

All in all, I Heard The Alps Call His Name is a good and deep debut book, two to three days’ reading for a slow reader, with generous line spacing formatting. I also have to mention the insertion of photographs from the family archive, most of them representing Marcus, from baby to young adult, but also his mom and maternal grandparents.

Madelyn June Jorgensen is a writer, poet, blogger, journalist and artist. She moved to Portugal (Alvor) to be closer to her son, Marcus, who lives in Switzerland.


I Heard the Alps Call His Name can be found on Amazon.es for €7,04 (paperback), Amazon.co.uk from £0.00 (KindleUnlimited) up to £5.87 (paperback), or Amazon.com for $7.49 (paperback.)

Photo © Madelyn June Jorgensen


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