I'll admit it. I wasn't overly excited about reading Three Cups of Tea when I saw that it was a 2009 Abraham Lincoln High School Book Award contender because, although I admire those who commit their lives to humanitarian endeavors, sometimes their stories can be a bit treacly. I enjoy reading blurbs about humanitarian heroes in People magazine, but an entire do-gooder memoir? Luckily, I put my reservations aside and was rewarded with an absolutely stellar account of an unlikely hero and his tireless efforts to build school for impoverished Muslim children in the mountains of the Pakistani Himalayas.
Greg Mortenson had failed to climb K2, the most technically-difficult climb of any mountain in the world. He was descending the slopes when he took a wrong turn, got lost, and ended up spending several weeks in Korphe, a tiny village, where he saw students trying to scratch out their lessons in the dirt. Mortenson vowed to return with enough money to build a school for the children of the village that had hosted him so generously. The rest of the book describes the difficulties Mortenson had finding donors to help Muslims (he points out that everyone wants to help the Buddhist sherpas made famous by Mt. Everest) and explores why that is and why helping Muslims and Muslim countries is necessary in fostering world peace. He eventually found a donor and began to travel down the path that he will follow for the rest of his life.
Three Cups of Tea is important for all Americans to read, in my opinion, and that's not something that I say lightly. It forces us as a country to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what our priorities are and what we can do-- both as a country and as individuals-- to foster world peace. 4 out of 4 Bananas