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Peak: Heroic Journey Lit Circle Book 3

The third book in our heroic journey literature circle is Peak, by Roland Smith. Peak is about a boy of the same name, who is initially arrested for scaling skyscrapers. To avoid jail time, he is sent to live with his father, who works as a guide for climbers of Mount Everest. To boost his business, Peak's father decides Peak should climb the mountain and become the youngest person to reach the summit.

While the reader needs to suspend belief on the chain of events that leads Peak to try for the summit, the book is a good read. It immerses us in the world of mountaineering in a way that is engaging and suspenseful, while accessible to those unfamiliar with climbing. As well, the relationship between Peak and his father leads to good discussions, as students guess what the dad's real motivations are during the climb and analyze their relationship.

Peak has a lot in common with Touching Spirit Bear and to a lesser extent Devil's Pass. In all three books, the main character starts off quite reckless. As they must survive against the elements, they change to become more selfless and empathetic. Peak learns to function as part of a team and begins to feel compassion for some of the other climbers. This leads him to reject his father and make an important sacrifice, a significant piece of character development.

Peak has proved to be very popular with my students, who are already asking me to track down the sequels The Edge and Ascent. I recommend it for the lessons it teaches about perseverance, selflessness, and sacrifice.