Peak (novel)

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Peak cover.jpg
Author Roland Smith
Cover artist Francis Floro
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date
September 2007
Media type Print
Pages 246 paperback
ISBN 0-15-202417-4
OCLC 82+92

Peak is a 2007 young adult fiction novel by Roland Smith concerning the physical and emotional challenges that face a fourteen-year-old as he climbs Mount Everest as well as tall buildings in New York City after moving from Wisconsin.[1] Peak won the 2007 National Outdoor Book Award (Children's Category).


In the opening scene, Peak writes about scaling the Woolworth Building in New York. Unfortunately, his face freezes to the building. Near the top, he is arrested for climbing and vandalizing (he spray paints blue mountains on the buildings that he climbs with a stencil - this was his sixth so far). After this, Peak ends up getting stitches on his face and is sent to Juvenile Detention Center. To make everything worse, a kid dies trying to repeat Peak's stunts. Because of the death, the people of New York want to make an example of him by giving him a harsh punishment. The question is, how harsh should the punishment be? When Peak goes to court, his biological father, Joshua Wood, comes and offers to take Peak back to Thailand to live with him for a while until the situation dies down in New York. It is either jail in New York, or live in Thailand with Josh, who he hasn't seen for seven years. There's not much of a choice for Peak so he leaves to go live with his father out of the country.

In the first flight, Josh and Peak fly to Bangkok, Thailand. Josh told Peak that they are not going to Chiang Mai, where Peak was expecting to go but will be traveling to Kathmandu (Mount Everest). At the Summit Hotel in Kathmandu, Josh leaves Peak and tells him to wait for one of Josh's friends, a Buddhist monk by the name of Zopa. Zopa will take him to Base Camp where they will prepare for the long climb up Everest. Sun-jo, a Nepalese boy, comes to the hotel room to take him to Zopa. Sun-Jo, who is the same age as Peak, takes Peak to Zopa on a broken motorcycle Peak goes and gets climbing gear and prepares for the trip. Sun-jo, Peak, Zopa, and two climbing sherpa brothers named Yogi and Yash travel to Tibet in the back of a pickup truck. After a long journey, they arrive at Base Camp. When they get there, Peak meets Holly Angelo, a reporter from New York, who happens to be the same reporter that got Peak almost jailed, and he learns that she will be climbing the mountain with him. Stunningly, Peak also realizes at this point that his father Josh bailed him out of jail to come and climb Mount Everest. This is important because if he makes the climb, he will be the youngest person to reach the top of the summit of Mount Everest. Later a German climber is brought down the mountain in a Gamow bag. A Gamow bag is designed to help prevent the progress of a disease called H.A.P.E., a disease that is a type of altitude sickness. Then they go to ABC (Advance Base Camp). Peak receives letters from home making him miss his family.

There is a secret meeting being held at HQ, after all, the other climbers go to sleep. By invitation only, Josh, the film crew, Sparky, Dr. Krieger, Thaddeus Bowen, and Zopa, who had brought Sun-jo with him, all attend. Josh asks about Sun-jo's health, and wonders if he can make it to the top, explaining that “Peak either makes it [to the summit] on the first try or he doesn’t [make it at all]."[2] Sun-jo has caught some sort of virus that has been spreading throughout the camps on Mt. Everest. If you get sick on Mt. Everest, there is a very slim chance you will make it to the top. After Josh finishes explaining his concern for Sun-jo, Holly comes in and tells them all that Sun-jo is Zopa's grandson. Becoming suspicious, Josh asks Sun-jo how old he is, to find out that he is fourteen too, and that he and Peak are climbing for the same reason. Later, Peak calls his mother and is told that he should not be on the mountain, as well as he should be selfless, or else he will not be able to climb the mountain.

After a few rough days of climbing, Peak wakes up and finds that the people paying for the trip are having a meeting of their very own. They tell Peak that they want him off the mountain. Josh tells Peak that “They're right. This is their climb. They're paying the tab.” Shocked, Peak almost explodes with anger. However, Peak submits and climbs into the truck with Zopa and is driven away from camp. After a while, Zopa gives Peak a letter from Josh telling him that he had staged it all and that he would be climbing up to the summit. Now Peak has to climb on a faster but more dangerous route, with the help of Zopa, Sun-jo, Yogi, and Yash. After all the steep paths and the perilous Yellow Band, they use the last of their strength to climb up to the summit of the mountain. But Peak lets Sun-jo make it to the top and take the title of the youngest climber to ever climb Mt. Everest. Since Sun-jo's father died saving Peak’s father, reaching the top would save Sun-jo and his sisters from poverty; with the money from the equipment endorsements he would receive, they would all be able to go back to school. Sun-jo ties Peak's yellow prayer flag to the top, while Peak records the whole thing on a video camera. After Peak comes back down the mountain, he flies home after saying goodbye to Josh. When he gets home, his parents throw his sisters a birthday party and tell him how they missed him. Peak speaks with his teacher, who tells him that his Moleskines are due, which Peak had been writing in throughout his climb. Peak then finishes his second Moleskine (a notebook) with the observation: “The only thing you’ll find on the summit of Mount Everest is a divine view. The things that really matter lie far below.”[3]


A variety of critics have said, “Here’s the perfect antidote for a kid who thinks books are boring.” “The hook here is irresistible.” “The nifty plotting, gripping story line, and Peak’s assured delivery give those who join this expedition much to savor.” “This is a thrilling, multifaceted adventure story." “Smith includes plenty of mountaineering facts told in vivid detail.” “Peak’s empathy for Sun-jo helps him make a critical decision as they near the summit, revealing his emotional growth and maturity.”


  1. ^ Peak at Fantastic Fiction
  2. ^ Smith, p. 129
  3. ^ Smith, p. 246


External links[edit]

Template:Mount Everest and sons