Peak by Roland Smith
Before we begin, I need to tell you something.
I’m not a hiker. I’m not an exercise enthusiast, although I probably should be. And I’m certainly nothing within the realms of a mountain climber. I leave all of these activities to those that are capable of putting one foot in front of the other and walking a straight line without falling.
But I do love a great story. Many years ago, an author came to my school to speak about his books, about authors, how many books they have to sell to actually make anything worth making, and about books that he himself loved. The very first book he recommended was Peak, by Roland Smith. Adventure. Mystery. Suspense. Danger. The struggle of why.
I was so charged from his enthusiasm that I immediately went to my computer and utilized my Amazon Prime account to get next day shipping on the novel. When it arrived, I made it my mission to do nothing else until I had conquered that book. I was not left disappointed.
Peak, the son of two mountain climbers, finds himself in a precarious situation living in NYC, with no real place to go climbing. So, he fabricates his own climbing venture in the form of the Woolworth Building. Unfortunately for Peak, he didn’t check the schedule of the building that evening, and therefore he didn’t see that there was a huge gala taking place for the mayor of NYC that night. Whoops. As it turns out, it was not his first offense, and nobody was happy. Peak was circling the drain, and fast-until, out of the blue, his estranged father, Josh, shows up. His father has concocted a plan to not only save Peak from his predicament, but to put him on the highest mountain in the world: Everest.
Nobody climbs Everest without hiccups, and Peak has plenty of them along the way, including a mysterious new friend, Sun-jo, a loud, ostentatious reporter named Holly, who is supposed to be documenting Peak’s story, and a retired Sherpa/monk, Zopa. As they climb, Peak begins to wonder all of his whys: why is he really doing this? Why does he want to climb Everest? Is his purpose really valid? And who exactly is Sun-jo? What are his motivations? What’s behind Josh’s reason for saving me from juvenile detention? Is he doing all of this for me or for himself?
I hate to give the entire book away, so I’ll leave my explanation at that.
As a read aloud, it doesn’t get better than Roland Smith’s carefully crafted, attention grabbing tale of Peak. My fourth graders stood and cheered when I read the last few pages of the story. I do believe they were both excited and disappointed that the story was finished.
There is a sequel to Peak, so to speak. It steals some of the same characters from the original novel, like the camera crew and Peak, but I didn’t find it nearly as captivating as I did Peak.
I challenge you to be like me: become a hiker, become a climber, become an outdoor enthusiast, but never leave your favorite, most comfortable reading spot while doing so. You will not regret it.