Above All Else

Charlesbridge Teen. Oct. 2020. 320p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781623541408.
Gr 8 Up–Rose Keller and Tate Russo have been friends forever and have wanted to summit Mount Everest since they were children. After much planning and training, they are ready to fulfill their lifelong dream, but the journey to reach the top of the world is not an easy one. In the midst of it all, these best friends turn to lovers and it becomes apparent that climbing this mountain may not be what they want anymore. With their relationship and lives on the line, they will need to decide for themselves whether they want to make it up the mountain. The story is so well-researched that readers will feel transported to Nepal, as if they are taking the journey with the characters. While learning about Mount Everest and the financial disparity in the region is eye-opening and informative, the abundance of details often detracts from the plot and pacing. The extensive research leaves little space for character development and the plot moves at a snail’s pace with very few events holding the reader’s interest. Rose’s mother is Puerto Rican and her father is white, and Tate’s ethnicity is never mentioned.
VERDICT While this is a well-informed homage to Mount Everest, the over-dependence on research makes the novel a slow-paced read unlikely to hold the attention of many readers.

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