BookBrowse Reviews Across Many Mountains by Yangzom Brauen

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Across Many Mountains

A Tibetan Family's Epic Journey from Oppression to Freedom

by Yangzom Brauen

Across Many Mountains by Yangzom Brauen
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2011, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2012, 320 pages

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A powerful memoir about three generations of Tibetan women and the unbreakable bond of love

With 18 out of 19 reviewers rating it 4 or 5 stars, Across Many Mountains is a clear favorite among BookBrowse readers. Here's what they have to say:

Across Many Mountains is exciting, informative, and a very compelling read (Barbara H). Once I opened the book, I couldn't put it down. I compare it to Elie Wiesel's Night; although Ms. Brauen does not present any horrifying details, she illustrates the persecution of a people based on their religion, in this case Buddhism. You learn a lot about this ancient religion and the way people in an isolated country can live on nothing (Donna N). Across Many Mountains is a must-read and relates the history of a people who remain true to their identity even in exile (Cynthia S); it is a worthy addition to the grand and tragic narrative of Tibet (Michael F).

For some readers, discovering the history and culture of Tibet was fascinating:
I was mesmerized by the trek to freedom across the Himalayan mountains in winter and the deeply spiritual nature of the grandmother and her husband, a Tibetan monk (Susan S). I expected to read much about the Chinese invasion of Tibet, but what I found was a personal journal of three generations of refugees, including very interesting details of Tibetan culture and religion (Sarah W). It was refreshing to read about people who still hold tradition and a sense of "homeland" so dear to their hearts (Kate S), and I found Yangzom Brauen's descriptions of her grandmother's Buddhist practices and the Tibetan way of life enlightening and often humorous (Sandra S).

And many enjoyed the narrative of these strong women:
I found all three women in the book - the grandmother, Kunsan; the mother, Sonam; and Yangzom, the daughter and author - to be amazing, courageous women in their own distinct ways (Sandy B). Brauen's grandmother, a Buddhist nun, is a figure of archetypal stature who anchors the family during the tumultuous 20th Century and beyond, from the homeland bravely onward into exile (Michael F).

But some, though taken with Brauen's memoir, desired more:
Sometimes the descriptions and the details ran too long, which made it a slow read for me, but I learned a lot about Tibet and Buddhism (Darlyne F). The author recounts somewhat flatly, the story of her grandparents' early experiences as they were forced to leave the land they loved, but her writing style gains a dynamic quality as she moves through her mother's young life in India (Soosi D).

Who should read this book?
Anyone who likes to learn about culture and history from stories about real people will love this memoir. When I reached the end, I felt tremendous empathy for the current plight of the Tibetan people (Sandy B). If you enjoy books about strong, successful women, you will adore this as much as I did. I finished it in a marathon reading session (Susan S). This memoir should be read by everyone interested in human rights (Donna N); it is a great story and I believe book clubs will love it (Anita S). I encourage all to read this memoir - it's a wonderful read (Cody Marie).

This review was originally published in October 2011, and has been updated for the October 2012 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



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