Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Peak


Whoever said that there aren't any good boy books hasn't been to a library recently. Roland Smith's new novel Peak is another excellent "story within a story" (see my recent blog on "Keturah and Lord Death") but told in a totally different manner. The story about Peak's (the main character) Mt. Everest climb will appeal to readers of both sexes from 6th grade up, and is a great example of plot conflicts. Peak faces internal struggles over his relationship with his father (which is believably resolved at the end); physical struggles as he attempts to climb the mountain; struggles with nature, conflicts with the Chinese government, resentment from other climbers, and discord with a new friend. I doubt that Smith could have "upped the ante" more -- read the book and see how that expression fits this story!

As a writer and story lover, I loved Vincent (Peak's English teacher) and the film crew's comments about stories. At one point Vincent tells Peak to "hold the story inside you until you're ready to burst" and another time he suggest that a "story is built like a stone wall. Not all the words will fit. Some will have to be discarded." One member of the film crew responds to Peak's question, "What's the story?" with the answer, "Chances are we don't know what the story is about until we know how the story ends." Great words!

I recommend this book for reading pleasure, as well as a great book to discuss a character's conflicts and the concepts of climax and denouement. (Harcourt Children's Books, 2007)

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