Saint John Don Bosco:

"Never read books you aren't sure about . . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?"

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Peak by Roland Smith

This was a Pretty Exceptional book And better than most Kinds I’ve been reading lately.

Peak (as in mountain) first lands in trouble from his stunt climbing a skyscraper. It wasn’t the first building he left his tag on, but it was the first one he forgot to check and see what was going on inside that day. The mayor’s visit set Peak up to be snagged by the cops at top and filmed by a TV crew.

The notoriety brings forth Peak’s absent dad who offers to whisk him out of the country until the media uproar dies down.

En route to the Asian city where Peak’s dad enrolled him in school, they make a detour to base camp at Mount Everest, where Peak’s father offers the chance for him to summit the peak as the youngest person yet with the happy consequence of also boosting the fame and fortune of his father’s flagging mountain-climbing company.
There is then the convergence of the perfect storm of conflict against the backdrop of Peak’s mature grappling with the past and continuous neglect of his famous but single-minded father… a hopeless “rock rat.”

The self-sacrifice, courage, and tension between pursuing a passion and balancing relationships is a fabulous read along with a fabulous non-preachy message. There is much to like and all of it engaging.

I’m sorry not to give it full safety rating though it came close. I’d note for parents that Peak’s mom was not married when he was “conceived in a tent.” It is something worth discussing with your tween, especially older ones… note that she was eager to leave her own family of origin (no details given), but it was significant for her. Part of the theme of the book is the effect dealing with his father’s absence and disinterest had on Peak. Also of note is how admirable a mom Peak has. Pregnancy cut short her climbing career, but she never looked back. It was because she could not but focus on her new baby that she lost her competitive edge. She built a loving family with a man who proved to be a good stepfather to Peak. Her advice to Peak upon his embarking on the summit experience is a remarkable speech. No surprise she has a remarkable son.


See: Pre-Marital Sex: Lessons from Reason, Scripture


Maria José Figueiredo December 27, 2011 at 2:40 PM  

I'm sorry to bother you here, but I can't find an e-mail address. Can you tell me whether Watership Down, by Richard Adams, is a safe reading and, if yes, to what ages.
Thank you very much!

Tween Lit Crit December 27, 2011 at 5:26 PM  

It has been awhile since I read Watership Down, but I know that after reading it, I had my oldest read it, and I don't remember anything that would be a problem, in fact, I think it is or will be a classic for good reasons. It reminds me of Black Beauty from the rabbit's perspective. It does make make you think twice before eating a rabbit (not intrinsically immoral), it also broadens your perspective of how an animal might think if it had reason and a human soul. Since we have both, it is worthy of us to ponder since we are required to treat God's creatures and creation with great care. I think there are sections in the catechism about care of creation that would gel marvelously with this story...

Maria José Figueiredo December 28, 2011 at 2:26 AM  

Thank you very much!
You've been most helpful.
Happy New Year, with lots of good readings!

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