Into the Land of Snows by Ellis Nelson
Summary: A troubled, sixteen-year-old Blake travels to Base Camp on Mt. Everest to spend time with his physician father. When a deadly avalanche occurs, his dad is forced to rethink things, so sends Blake off the mountain.
Now accompanied by a Sherpa guide, and in possession of a mysterious camera, Blake undertakes a journey which will challenge everything he believes. The magic of his experience in the Himalayas, will forever change him.
Review: The first thing that intrigued me about the book was the title, “Into the Land of Snows.” I found out later that the title is actually another name for Tibet, Nepal, and the surrounding Himalayan area. What a clever idea by the author to use it as the title of her book, then.
Throughout the novel, the Sherpa guide (Ang) consistently tries to engage and educate Blake (the teenage protagonist) in the ways of life. However, Blake, being a self-absorbed, typical U.S. teenager, is hardly interested. That is, until they end up in several harrowing situations that require him to pay attention so that he can learn and understand how to overcome the challenges.
During their trek through the mountains, Blake and Ang debate philosophy (primarily Buddhism), encounter differences in social mores, and work through several ethical and moral issues.
Having never been to the Himalayas or met a Sherpa, I found the descriptions and societal insights fascinating and educational. However, the conversations on philosophy seemed stilted and unnatural. Overlooking that unnaturalness, though, I did find the snippets of information gleaned from the book helpful and intriguing. Intriguing enough to get me to check out several books on Buddhism from the library.
Will this book appeal to young adults? I can’t really say. But as an adult, I found it quite interesting and very informative.
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