Book Review by Dana Taylor
Into The Land of Snows by Ellis Nelson
This YA novel centers on sixteen-year-old Blake, a typical American kid dealing with his parents’ recent divorce with minor rebellion and simmering resentment. His Dad, a doctor and adventurer, has just landed an assignment working as a physician at the base camp on Mt. Everest. When Blake’s Mom declares him out of control, Blake finds himself dispatched to spend the summer with Dad in the Himalayas. Blake’s hopes of finally having time with his Dad are soon dashed when an avalanche makes the area too dangerous for Blake to remain. Instead, he finds himself on a cross country journey with a wise Sherpa named Ang, destination Katmandu. Soon Blake finds himself a stranger in a strange land of monks, yetis, mountain animals, and blizzards. All his concepts of reality and illusion are challenged with each step on the twisting paths.
Ellis Nelson weaves a well-crafted coming-of-age tale, making the cultures and mountainous setting come alive in the reader’s mind. Recommended for the YA audience and beyond.
Ellis Nelson has served as an Air Force officer, government contractor, and teacher. She has had an interest in Buddhism since childhood. Currently, she lives in Colorado Springs, CO with her husband.
From the author: How This Book Came Into the World
Several years ago I had a particularly bad year. My father died, my son was hospitalized, and I came face to face with my own health crisis. All in one year. My illness effectively took me out of the world and focused my attention inward. I returned to basics and found my interest in Buddhism waiting for me. Silent, I think, since at least my teenage years.
I began taking classes offered in faraway Dharamsala, India. Thanks to the internet, I was able to study with a master who had fled Chinese-occupied Tibet to follow His Holiness, the Dalai Lama into exile in 1959. Listening to Geshe Sonam Rinchen’s patient lectures aided my understanding of Tibetan Buddhism. That along with my friendship with a young monk in India helped me to process and write, Into the Land of Snows. The novel explores many of the themes I was exposed to as I learned Eastern concepts.
The process of the inward journey continues for me. Living in the material world is not easy. I know the majority of readers will read the book as an adventure in a foreign land, but I hope the book finds a few fellow spiritual travelers.