MORTAL LEAP by MacDonald Harris


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An interesting, keen, semi-philosophic novel, Mortal Leap is about a totally disaffected man who gets a second chance in life. At sixteen, Larry Backus, of a strict Mormon family in Utah, runs away to sea. He is a well-read lad but his worldly education is taken over by the stoical, elderly Victor, a second mate. Victor steals from him to teach him a lesson and eventually gets Larry into San Quentin on a two-year stretch for possession of marijuana. When Larry is released, Victor has a berth arranged for him on a ship carrying war material (WW II). The ship is sunk at sea. Larry survives, only to undergo plastic surgery which changes his face into the outward symbol of the twisted silence into which he recedes. When a woman arrives at the hospital and claims to be his wife, Larry, who has feigned amnesia, goes along with her. She is wealthy, and Larry begins his new life from emotional scratch and finally overcomes his inertia through love and work. The last confrontation is made when they both admit that they have lied about the mask of his new identity but have discovered themselves in each other.. The story is well told, with convincing characters and a sense of purpose.

Publisher: Norton