Greg Mortenson, a trauma nurse and avid mountain climber, heads to Pakistan to climb K2 in honor of his recently deceased sister. After failing to summit, he stumbles into the village of Korphe where the people there take him in and nurse him back to health. One day he notices a group of small children practicing letters in the dirt and decides that he wants to build a school for the children of the village. Mortenson faces physical, emotional, and monetary struggles to build a school for these children. He helps create the CAI (Central Asia Institute) and attempts to raise awareness for his project; receiving little to no response. Once Mortenson successfully completes the school in Korphe, and is searching for another location to build another school, he is kidnapped. But once he is released after eight days, Mortenson and the CAI continue to build schools this time focusing on providing education for girls in Pakistan. Some conflicts erupt when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are attacked on September 11, 2001. Mortenson begins to receive hate mail for helping Muslims. Despite this, he is able to finally raise awareness for CAI and begins to receive national attention a long with large donations.
This book was somewhat frustrating to read, mainly because it was discovered that Mortenson is a fraud. Also the writing isn’t that particularly good. However, I did enjoy learning more about the Islamic culture of Pakistan by reading about how Mortenson adapted to his environment. He seemed to be very respectful of the different culture and traditions of the people he encountered. I liked how the book has a positive message and addresses how education is one of the most powerful ways to defeat terrorism. Despite the story being inspirational, I am still blinded by the fact that it isn’t completely true which unfortunately made the book a struggle to read.