Peak (novel)

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Peak cover.jpg
AuthorRoland Smith
Cover artistFrancis Floro
CountryUnited States
PublisherHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date
September 2007
Media typePrint
Pages246 paperback

Peak is a 2007 young adult fiction novel by Roland Smith. Portrayed in the novel are 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 Wyoming .[1] Peak won the 2007 National Outdoor Book Award (Children's Category).


Peak is a fourteen-year-old boy who learned how to rock climb through his parents. His father, Joshua Wood, has almost never seen him and leads climbing expeditions. Because there are few places where Peak can climb, he scales skyscrapers. During one climb, he gets caught after his face becomes injured from being frozen to the wall. He is sent to Juvenile Detention Hall. After another boy attempts to scale the Flatiron, inspired by Peak, and falls to his death, Peak is sent to court, where Josh returns and agrees to take him back to Chiang Mai. Josh and Peak fly to Bangkok, Thailand. Josh tells Peak that they are not going to Chiang Mai, where Peak was expecting to go, but will be traveling to Kathmandu, near 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 Everest Base Camp, where they will prepare for the long climb up Everest. Sun-jo, a Nepalese boy who is the same age as Peak, takes Peak to Zopa on a broken motorcycle. Sun-jo, Peak, Zopa, and two Sherpa brothers named Yogi and Yash travel to Base Camp. When they get there, Peak meets Holly Angelo, a reporter, who forced Josh to take her to the top of mount Everest, who happens to be the same reporter that almost got Peak jailed, and he learns that she will be climbing the mountain with him. Peak realizes at this point that his father bailed him out of jail to come and climb Mount Everest. If he makes the climb, he will be the youngest person to reach the summit. Later, a German climber suffering from H.A.P.E., a type of altitude sickness, is brought down the mountain in a Gamow bag.

Josh, the film crew, Sparky, Dr. Krieger, Thaddeus Bowen, Zopa, and Sun-jo attend a meeting to discuss the climb. 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 a virus that has been spreading through the camps. Josh asks Sun-jo how old he is and finds out that he is fourteen also, and that he and Peak are climbing for the same reason. He also finds out Sun-jo was born in Tibet but his father moved to Nepal. He returned to Tibet through forged documents, and if Chinese officer Captain Shek patrolling the area finds him, he will be taken away and arrested.

After a few rough days of climbing, there is intrigue involving a climbing party that does not want Peak to summit. Zopa pretends to take Peak away from the camp, but instead, Peak continues climbing on a faster but more dangerous route with the help of Zopa, Sun-jo, Yogi, and Yash. They reach the summit, but Peak lets Sun-jo make it to the top and take the title of the youngest climber to ever climb Mt. Everest. 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 notebooks are due; Peak had been writing in them throughout his climb. Peak finishes his second 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]


This book was favorably reviewed in Publisher's Weekly, which described the book as "the perfect antidote for a kid who thinks books are boring.... The hook here is irresistible," and "the nifty plotting, gripping story line, and Peak's assured delivery give those who join this expedition much to savor."[4] It goes on, saying

In 2012, Peak was listed as one of the American Library Association's "Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults."[5]


  1. ^ Peak at Fantastic Fiction
  2. ^ Smith, p. 129
  3. ^ Smith, p. 246
  4. ^ ""Peak"". Publisher's Weekly. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  5. ^ ""Peak"". American Library Association. Retrieved 11 April 2017.


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