Across Many Mountains, by Yangzom Brauen, is every bit the epic journey that the cover promises it to be; the reader walks through the life of three generations of Tibetan women, from the age of six through adulthood. In doing so, the reader is able to recognize the different worlds that each of these women are raised in, and the effect that it has on their view of life itself. This approach would give a beautiful representation of any culture, but it is especially striking to experience the Tibetan culture that few of us are truly familiar with.
Not only does Brauen walk us through the lives of her grandmother, mother, and herself, but she is also walking her readers through the history of nearly 90 years of daily life in Tibet and the devastating effects of its Chinese occupation. She doesn’t hesitate to point out how little the western world knows or takes notice of little Tibet, nor does she whine or show bitterness about that. It is just one of the matter-of-fact issues that she points out and does what she can to change while weaving a great cultural and historical story.
Brauen is a wonderful storyteller with great timeline and language skills. She keeps her stories tight without also running too shallow or too deep with detail and personality. I could not help but be amazed at the depth of dedication of her grandmother to her life as a Buddhist nun, her mother’s adaptations to the other cultures she found herself living in and how she got there, or Brauen’s own western life.
Across Many Mountains is epic on many levels: historically, culturally, and relationally. It is awesome to see how an obscure, poor little Tibetan orphan girl travels through life to become a 90-year-old grandmother who has traveled the world and has shared audiences with the Dalai Lama.
For readers interested in adventure, culture, and history (with out the overly “educational” feel), Across Many Mountains is a story not to be missed.
Alyssa is a wife and stay at home, homeschooling mother of five, with two boxers, two cats, a soft shelled turtle named after Bob the Builder, and 7 frogs (admittedly a homeschooling project gone froggy). In all her spare time, she loves to read and believes that there is no such thing as having too many books!
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by St. Martin’s Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.