Peak by Roland Smith
Peak Marchello (named by his mountaineering parents) gets into trouble with the law after one of his own climbing escapades. His estranged father arrives to help with the legal troubles bringing a solution that involves taking Peak back to Tibet with him where he runs a commercial enterprise guiding climbers up Mount Everest. Peak’s father wants to take his son to the top which will make him the youngest person to reach the top of Mount Everest if he can make it before his upcoming 15th birthday. Peak is writing his story as part of an English assignment and there is a lot of family conflict to negotiate. The descriptions of the mountain terrain and the determination to not only survive but work through the incredible stress on the body (due to the extreme physical exertion needed to make the climb) and dealing with the effects of altitude sickness keep the reader hooked.
I found Peak’s narrative voice authentic and the story kept me engrossed. The descriptions of the base camps with their pile ups of discarded equipment, empty oxygen tanks, other detritus, and frozen corpses that cannot be brought down from the mountain angered me. The reader will begin to think seriously about the commercialization and defacement of Mount Everest which is one of our planet’s greatest natural wonders. The reader will also be fully engaged with Peak’s climb and his personal growth and realizations.
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