In On the Precipice, we get the profoundly moving conclusion and a whole new beginning to Nathan’s journey to round out Robin Reardon’s Trailblazer series. Reading this trilogy in order not only gives much needed background story, but allows the reader to completely understand just how far Nathan has come over the several years and how far he still wants and needs to go. He is always seeking to understand his inner self and his connection to others, those he has lost and those who he currently holds dear in his life. It has not been an easy path for Nathan; rather one filled with grief, indecision, lots of painful growth, and some successes among the failures. For those who have watched his transition, this third book is a bit of a nail-biter, not only in some of the secondary story lines, but also in seeing if Nathan truly is ready to let go and breathe in the hope that dangles right in front of him.
The story begins with a mugging at knife point and Nathan’s realization that his desire of a future career may well put him in the pathway of many such an experience. After all, counseling the addicted brings with it no small measure of backsliding and hidden dangerous scenarios. But rather than put him off, Nathan allows the experience to push him into taking a risk—leaving his only relative, his sister Nina, and moving to Maine to use his gap year to work an administrative position at a local addiction counseling center. The opportunity is in no small part thanks to his friend, Margot, whom he met on the Kalalau trail. They have kept in touch and she is about to be employed by the same center and encourages him to give the job a shot.
Once there, Nathan, of course, must find out about the local hiking trails and when he hears about the Precipice climb, he goes to check it out and sees a man in a wheelchair posted like a sentry at the start of the trail. The guy holds up a sign challenging the reader to ask him why he is in the chair and as one thing leads to another, the man, Drew, and Nathan end up having a drink together. It’s at this point in the story that fans of this author are reminded of why she is so very good at creating characters who are challenging and flawed; this is no easy romance about to happen, but rather it will be gritty, painful, and revelatory for both Nathan and Drew and the question is not will they survive it, but how will it change them and mold their relationship going forward.
Luckily for us Reardon, is a consummate storyteller so the ups and downs of Nathan and Drew’s trek toward love seem to at times run parallel to the healing journey of a patient at the clinic who latches onto Nathan as his friend and mentor, of sorts. It is an interesting dynamic to see the teacher, Nathan, become the student while he carefully interacts with Emmett, a younger recovering addict filled with self-loathing. Scene after scene in this story finds Nathan confronted with searing self-truths via off-hand yet telling comments from friends and private moments of personal and painful realization while he explores the possibility of a real and lasting relationship with Drew and a deepening friendship with Emmett. Basically, this poor guy gets his mind blown more than once and it is amazing to watch him grasp deeper understanding and let loose the many safety nets he has been clinging to most of his life. And yet, that’s growing up, isn’t it? And Robin Reardon writes Nathan’s story so very well.
On the Precipice is a marvelous end to a painstaking exploration that brings Nathan both full circle and ready to begin anew. It is hopeful, wise, and invigorating, with tender moments of intimacy and hard hitting truth that reminds us all that the journey is so worth the taking and while the path is often rocky, reaching the summit is glorious.