On Bear Mountain by Deborah Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Charming as always.
Quentin Riconni's life falls apart after his Father Richard Riconni gets a commission to build a bear out of "junk" for the campus of a small Southern College (Mountain State College). Richard uses the money from the commission to move away from his wife and son and devote his time to his art. Richard fails to see the abject poverty his wife and son endure for his sake and when a wealthy patron notices his art Richard falls prey to her charms. When Quentin learns of his Father's infidelity he decides to do whatever necessary to help his Mother out of poverty and starts stealing cars for a local chop shop. His Father learning of the thefts confronts his son and harsh words are exchanged. For awhile Quentin is back on the right path and earns a scholarship to MIT but when he goes to share the news with Richard he finds him dead of a self inflicted gunshot wound. He goes back to stealing cars and his girlfriend's Father (Police Detective Alfonse Esposito) catches him. Alfonse gets a deal for Quentin that keeps his record clean as long as he enters the army. Quentin's dreams of being an architect and going to MIT are ruthlessly taken from him and Quentin vows to never care about anything or anyone again.
Ursula's Father, Tom Powell loves the Iron Bear (aka Bare Wisdom) and repairs it from the vandalism that it endures on the college campus. When Betty Tiber Habersham dies John Tiber (who inherited her estate) vows to destroy the Iron Bear that he feels has made a laughingstock of his family. Tom saves the Iron Bear by buying it for $200 that he can ill afford and moves it to his family's homestead. When his wife goes into labor there is no money for a Doctor, the midwives assume the premature baby is dead but Ursula remembering what her and her Daddy do for the baby chickens snatches the baby's body off the table dumps him in some cold water and manages to revive him. Arthur lives but is autistic. Unfortunately Tom's wife dies due to the difficult delivery and Ursula blames her Father and the Iron Bear for her Mother's death.
Angele Riconni promoted her husband's art after his death and his work is now worth millions, when Quentin leaves the army he is a very wealth man and starts a salvage business. Ursula owns a small bookstore in Atlanta and runs a small publishing company. When her Father dies she is forced to return to Tiberville to care for Arthur who refuses to live in Atlanta. Quentin shows up on her doorstep during a tornado and saves her from the collapsing barn. He wants to buy the Iron Bear for his Mother and offers Ursula millions for it, but Arthur who refers to the bear as Mother Bear and talks to it refuses to part with it. Quentin sticks around in hopes of changing his mind and Arthur begins to refer to him as Brother Bear. Quentin and Ursula begin to fall in love but both fight their feelings for one another. Arthur eventually states that Mother Bear is lonely and that Quentin must build her a companion. Quentin says he isn't an artist and can't, but goes back to New York to find an artist who can.
John Tiber hires men to sneak on the Powell homestead while the family is out and destroy the Iron Bear. They cut the head of the Iron Bear off before Ursula gets back and chases them off. Arthur collapses and declares Mother Bear is dead. When Quentin hears the news he returns and repairs Mother Bear and vows to build her a companion himself. In order to do so he must reach deep inside and understand his Father in a way he never did before.
In an attempt to save the live bears on the property Arthur and Esme (special needs girl) lure them into a trailer and drive them deeper into the mountains. Quentin and Ursula go after them and find them on Bear Mountain. Esme has a loaded gun in a knapsack the bear cub is playing with. The gun goes off and Quentin is shot miles away from help. In an act of faith in her brother and Esme Ursula sends them for help and stays with Quentin while he slowly bleeds to death.
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