I never thought I'd end up giving this book 5 stars (official 4.5), having got to 39% and debating a two star score!
Firstly, this book has been on my to read list for years, I'm passionate about the subject and love reading anything set in this area of the World. My expectations were high, as were the reviews that led this to my to read shelf in the first place.
The start of the book is a great introduction to Greg Mortenson, his climbing career, his team and ambitions. When he fails at his most recent climbing expedition and loses contact with his team, he spends a lonely night, fighting the cold and extreme conditions high altitude in the Karakoram mountains has to offer. The next day, tired and weak he finds his porter, only to lose him again and stumble upon a village called Korphe.
The hospitality of the Korphe leader Haji Ali and his family, warms Greg's heart, and after seeing the village children learning with sticks, outside in the dust, Greg vows to repay the kindness he'd received by returning and building a school.
Great... Well maybe not, the next few chapters flitted between Greg's struggle back in the USA to raise money for the school, to his weird infatuation with a woman with full lips who became his girlfriend. I can't even remember her name, she was so irrelevant, that I have no idea why she was included in the book. This part of the book Greg spent feeling sorry for himself, a lot.
So skimming over few chapters to where the real action begins, I began to love the story. How selfless could one person get, on the other hand I found myself feeling sorry for his new wife, Tara, having to put up with him.
The only other negative to this book, may be due to the fact there were two authors. I loved the descriptive scenes, giving me several lumps in my throat, but it kept jumping to a very interview based, journalistic style. While interesting to hear the views of the many people Greg met along the way, I didn't appreciate being dragged out of my scene making!
Whilst my review may not sound positive, I am merely pointing out the negatives. If you want to read a story of friendship, hope and determination, all in a country fighting the effects of several wars (not just military), then read this book!
I will be reading the next book in the series "Stones into Schools" and seeing how the charity CAI have progressed in recent years. I find it highly topical, with the recent shooting of school girl Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan, that the fight for girls education in Muslim countries continues.
Review by Vicki Lawrence
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