Across Many Mountains: A Tibetan Family's Epic Journey from Oppression to Freedom - Yangzom Brauen
This was almost a 4-star read for me, but not quite. Stylistically, the writing was a bit simple and at times very sterile. This wasn’t really a problem during the first half of the book, and in fact I didn’t even notice it until well into the second half. My knowledge of Buddhism and Tibet is so lacking that I was too engrossed in learning about both to notice or care. However, once Ms. Brauen had completed her narrative with regard to her mother and grandmother’s escape and early life in India, her writing style did become a major problem for me. Ms. Brauen’s writing lacked depth and feeling. It felt like she was trying to convey her story in a manner that an elementary school aged child would understand. It almost read like a textbook and for this reason, I did not enjoy the second half of this book nearly as much as I did the beginning.

It is still a worthwhile read. Kunsang and Sonam are truly remarkable women. Not only did they survive a harrowing journey to freedom (Sonam was only 6 years old!), but they showed a rare adaptability when they realized that the old life was gone with no way of getting it back. This was particularly difficult for Kunsang, the grandmother. Although Ms. Brauen points out that life in Tibet was no Shangri-La (life was brutally difficult), it lent itself to the type of solitary contemplative life her grandmother wanted to have.

What this story did succeed in doing was raising my American hackles at the thought of anyone, particularly a government, defiling sacred places the way the Chinese did to the Buddhist temples when they took over. It makes me realize how much we as Americans take it for granted that our holy places and people will always be treated with respect.