By Roland Smith
Grade Levels: 6-8
Roland Smith’s 2007 creation, Peak, has garnered more than its share of accolades among the crowded young adult fiction genre. The American Library Association honored it three times in 2008 in the category of young adult novels. It also received the 2009 Nevada Young Reader’s Award and the 2007 National Outdoor Book Award. This recognition is well-deserved; Peak is a gripping novel about a daring ascent of Mt. Everest that will spark the interest of readers even if they have no prior experience climbing. Although, if you’re looking for a book to recommend to an avid young climber, this is it.
The plot centers around the eponymous Peak Marcello, whose father convinces him to attempt to scale Mt. Everest and become its youngest successful climber at the age of 14. It’s a request that makes Peak re-evaluate the meaning of family and reassess his view of his mostly-absent father. The physical journey Peak goes through as he works his way towards the summit mirrors the emotional journey he undergoes. Roland Smith’s book is a page-turner for any young adult reader - the premise is exciting enough to make even the most reluctant reader loathe to put it down, chapter after chapter. Peak is the perfect book for students who might otherwise be reluctant to read in their spare time. The excitement in this book is enough to convince anyone to join Peak on the climb of a lifetime.