Rated of 5
by Soosi D. (Shelton, Washington)
Across Many Mountains
What this book lacks in writing style it makes up for in real-life story. Ms Brauen recounts the tale of three generations of Tibetan women surviving monumental life events across three continents and four countries. Their individual and collective strengths are brought to bare on their circumstances and result in the three of them now living in the 21st century far from their Tibetan roots.
Beginning with their simple and deeply-religious life in remote Tibet and continuing through their flight to India during the 1959 Chinese invasion, the author recounts somewhat flatly, the story of her grandparents' early experiences as they were forced to leave the land they loved. Ms. Brauen's writing style gains a dynamic quality as she moves through her mother's young life in India and later her romance with Ms. Brauen's now-famous father, Martin Brauen. It is Mr. Brauen's proposal of marriage that leads to their move to Switzerland and eventually to the United States.
This is an important retelling of one Tibetan family that was forced to leave their native land yet remain devoted to the religious and cultural beliefs of their people. Having traveled in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and having met other Tibetan families, I find this book to be very representative of the stories told by many other Tibetans living outside the boundaries of Tibet today.
Editor's Note: Some months after submitting her review, Soosi emailed us with some additional thoughts...
I wanted to comment further on my previous review of Across Many Mountains. I discovered that I had already bought this book last Spring when I was in Hong Kong, but had not read it and had put it aside to read 'later' as I often do. My context for reading it (and rating it) was based on two (and now three) trips to Qinghai Province, China to the eastern Tibetan Plateau region that is settled primarily by rural Tibetans and Hui (Chinese Muslims). Our guide each time has been a wonderful young Tibetan man who has a similar history as the main characters, He made a similar trip from his monastery at the age of 15 to Lhasa, on to Katmandu with a group of 57 'pilgrims' who then traveled the rest of the way to India and Dharmsala, where he was educated in refugee schools in English and computer science. He returned to his family seven years later and now resides part time in the city of Xining and part time in his very primitive village where his family still lives. He is a fascinating, very conflicted young man.
I think I would have been less distracted by the quality of writing in Across Many Mountains if I had been reading about an experience such as theirs for the first time....so I guess it works both ways. In hindsight, I really did enjoy the content of the book. Interestingly, I had my review copy in my suitcase on our trip to Sichuan/Qinghai this November and it disappeared from my suitcase in Chengdu. No one said anything, it was just taken! I was hand-carrying it to our guide who was very eager to read it. I should have kept it closer to my body! I hope it got passed along and not burned.