I thoroughly enjoyed this teen boy adventure. Peak Marcello is a 14-year-old boy, the son of two well-known mountaineers, so he hardly can help it that climbing is in his blood. But when he’s caught climbing a New York skyscraper, he only escapes jail when his father, Josh, shows up and offers to take him back to Thailand with him until things cool down.
But Josh has never been part of Peak’s life. He left when pregnancy and then a serious fall caused Peak’s mom to give up the sport. Peak hopes for a meaningful time with his dad, and he’s stunned to find out Josh’s motivations are primarily financial. Josh wants Peak to climb Mount Everest. If he succeeds, he’d be the youngest climber ever, which could only benefit Josh’s guide business.
This is a fantastic adventure novel. Not only do we have a well-rounded character in Peak with a tough predicament, we get to climb Mount Everest with him! The context is a virtual crash course in procedure, equipment, hazards, glories, geography, and topography. It got my blood pumping, I’ll tell you! In addition, we’re introduced to several sherpas, those unsung heroes who guide climbers to the top, making the trip again and again. It was an interesting look at the local people who live, work, and often die tragically on Mount Everest. We even get a taste of the restrictive politics of China (Tibet), which shares the mountain with Nepal.
Peak becomes close friends with a local Nepalese boy named Sun-jo whose grandfather is a sherpa. Without giving away anything, let me just say the friendship does much to drive the story into deeper levels and illustrate who Peak really is, deep down. Peak’s classic quote, the great takeaway at the end of his emotional journey, is: “The only thing you’ll find on the summit of Mount Everest is a divine view. The things that really matter lie far below.”
I loved Peak. I enjoyed his story, and I liked his conclusions. Moms, there are a couple mild swear words, but I still highly recommend for boys (and girls who like a good kick-butt adventure now and again). Ages 12+.