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Monday, November 5, 2012

Between Heaven and Earth, written by Eric Walters. Orca Book Publishers, 2012. $9.95 ages 10 and up

"I searched the stall again until I was certain that I'd located all of my things. What I couldn't fit into my pack I put in the other bag - the green duffel bag. I did a rough tally in my head, trying to remember what else was missing, what else I had to find. I basically had everything I could think of, including my special flashlight..."

This is the first book that I have read in a new series from Orca called Seven The Series. Seven authors tell seven different stories about the seven grandsons of David McLean. Each of the tales takes place at the same time, and each grandson is charged by his grandfather with a personal journey. The grandfather has provided the money, the plan and a letter to each of his beloved grandsons:

"There is a saying - if you wish to travel fast, travel alone; if you wish to travel far, travel together. You are part of a group of climbers, supported by porters and led by a guide. Travel with them. That's important for the climb and in life. Don't leave people behind - not your mother, not your brother, not your cousins - on your life journey."  

DJ is David McLean's eldest grandson, and the quest given him is to take his grandfather's ashes to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. DJ sees it as a task he will completely quickly, and without incident. DJ is one of those confident, overbearing stars at everything he does. He is sure the climb will be a walk in the park.

He isn't counting on problems that might arise before he ever gets to the base of the mountain. Detained when he arrives and worried that they might discover his grandfather's ashes in the climbing cane he is carrying, then tricked by street kids, he loses everything he has brought with him. His guide's daughter takes him on a dangerous mission to get his equipment back and then coerces him into ensuring that she is taken along as one of his porters. When he meets the other members of his climbing group, he is disappointed.

Sarah is the first female porter, and the youngest, to scale Kilimanjaro. The other porters don't want her along and they make their feelings known; nor does her father who is their Chugga guide approve, but he does as DJ asks. The older woman Ruth is mindful of the difficulties of the climb and offers a word of advice....polepole. It means to go slowly. It is needed advice and augers well for the upcoming trek. It is a surprise to DJ that he is ill-equipped for the climb, and he learns to be thankful for Ruth's company and constant reminders to take it easy.

We get to know the three main characters...DJ, Sarah and Ruth, well and are right there with them every step along the way. All are strong characters, and learn much about themselves and the others as well. Together, they focus on the journey, which is what his grandfather wanted for DJ. He comes home a different person than he was when he left.

Now, I'm off to read John Wilson's Lost Cause which focuses on DJ's twin brother, Steve.

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