Dana Alison Levy might be a lovely person; but as I do not know them personally, I cannot say one way or the other. However, I am sure I do not like her characters in Above All Else. In fact, I am disliking them so much, I just cannot finish this book. I am very glad I was able to get this in an e-reader format because even keeping my uncle (the logger) in a job would not ease my soul for taking the life of a tree.
Tate and Rose are two seniors in high school that have been best friends forever. In fact, they are so close as friends everyone assumes that they are more. And of course, they are not. Until they are. (Not so spoiler spoiler) When this happens, they go at it like rabbits. Until they do not (cue teen angst). The book is the two of them (in alternating chapters) telling their adventures before and during their climb to Everest. They have climbed with her mom and his dad for as long as you can imagine. There is a flashback at one point that starts to give all you need to know about them: Roses’ mom becomes ill on a basic climb; Tate has a horrific accident and all scenes with Tate and his dad are the typical “Father Knows Best for his Goof Off Kid.”
Anything that can happen, happens to them: Rose’s mother is diagnosed with MS; therefore, she cannot climb Everest, which was her dream. Now Rose feels obligated to finish the trip for her mom. Tate does not want to be there due to his fear. Tate’s father gets altitude sickness. The characters are politically correct. Except the French hiker who is the “Pierre come lightly” (the happy-go-lucky one) though, he is a nice guy. Rose is always talking about how they picked a Sherpa company that pays fair wages, hires women, and has a good reputation. Rose mentioned how she is privileged, but still, she seems to just “shrug it off.”
I appreciate that Levy tells you the dangers of things. Everest is no walk in the park. I appreciate the fact that they tell you how many hikers have just trashed the area, leaving behind trash, equipment and more. And I appreciate that it is dangerous, and people die. And yes, I understand why she tells you the bodies are still there on the trail. I also liked the hint of spiritualism of the land (they need blessings from a certain man, the temples, prayer wheels and monasteries) as well as the commercialism (Starbucks anyone? Or how about a Coke?) But I never felt anyone really appreciated that fact (the spiritualism and seem to also just shrug off the commercialism as well, they gotta make money, too). However, I admit I am basing that assumption on being not exactly halfway through the novel.
I might have liked this as a young teen. I mean, hey! Sex scenes! (Which as an adult I think, “Awww how cuuute!”) I might have even been able to finish it. And I still might, I do not like to leave a book unfinished, no matter how I do not like it. But if I knew a teen (strong 12 and up) I might give this to them. It is, at least as far as I got, a “beach read.” Teachers might accept it for a book report (there are great facts and an afterwards from the author about Everest), but it seems more of a “It’s break, and I want some pleasure reading.”