25 October 2010

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson (Young Reader's Edition)

I want to start off by dispelling some myths about this book so that misconceptions do not keep anyone from reading it.  It was a great book, and I highly recommend it.
  • Myth #1 - This book is about how the government should fix education or this book is about how the government should fix Afghanistan:
    • I remember this title being all over the bookstores about two years ago, but I was hesitant to read it due to my sometimes-aversion to non-fiction.  Also, being a teacher, I am sometimes nervous about books about education because I think I will be too invested in the topic, and I may get defensive or irritated.  Let me tell you right now - This is not a book about what is right and wrong in education.  Thank goodness!  If it was, why would you, a young adult, pick it up?  So read away!  This is not an instructional book on how to have good schools.  phew.
    • Similarly, this is not a book on how to fix Afghanistan.  Greg Mortenson is certainly helping Afghanistan and hopes that others will join him, but he is not professing to have the end-all-be-all fix from America.  Thank goodness, again.  If he was trying to say that, I would probably get annoyed.
    • Fear not, young readers, this book is not telling you what to do.  Although, I hope you will be inspired by the example it sets.
  • Myth #2 - The Young Reader's Edition is babyish.
    • Well that's just not true.  It is at a young adult level.  It is readable and engaging for pre-teens and teens without you feeling like it is too easy.  It will stretch you!  That being said, I don't think the regular version is too difficult for any of you, either.  If you are interested in this book, take a look at both editions and choose the one that suits you - either way, you're getting a good read.  That being said, I'm using the Young Reader's Edition for this review
Greg Mortenson starts off trying to climb K2 in honor of his sister.  Opening with this event, the book jumps straight into the true-adventures genre.  He gets lost, nearly dies, is rescued, is taken in by virtual strangers, and make new friends for life within the span of the first few chapters.  Wow!  After this experience, Greg is burdened with a desire to help the village that welcomes him in as a stranger by building them a bridge and school.  It does not go easily at first.  There are set-backs and moments of discouragement both stateside and abroad.  At one point, Greg is even living out of his car to save money.  He is also kidnapped and held hostage in Pakistan!  Provisions and aid come through, though, exactly when they are needed.  Before too long, Greg is building schools and bridges all over Afghanistan and Pakistan.  I like the Young Reader's Edition, in particular, because of all the extras it gives you.  It is kind of like getting a super-loaded special features menu on a DVD.  There is a wealth of full-color and black and white photos; there are interviews with his daughter, Amira; and there is a lot of good information on his charities.  This book breaks down the barrier between "girl books" and "boy books"  and mixes adventure together well with a close look at another culture and what is being done to help that culture.

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