No Barriers (The Young Adult Adaptation): A Blind Man’s Journey To Kayak the Grand Canyon

St. Martin’s. Aug. 2019. 224p. glossary. photos. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781250206770.
Gr 7-10–Despite the amazing and nearly supernatural achievements of Weihenmayer, who lost his sight at the age of 13 and went on to become the first blind man to climb Mt. Everest, among other accolades, this book isn’t as thrilling or moving as one would have thought. Instead of being enthralled, readers are buried under an avalanche of details. Perhaps a dedicated kayaker or a mountain climber will be captivated by the descriptions of each trial, setback, and stage that the author went through to get past the fabled Lava Falls in the Grand Canyon. No one can say that his accomplishments aren’t spectacular and worthy of study, but this book, adapted for young people, falls flat. The narrative is very matter of fact, with little emotion attached. Weihenmayer depends on many different people along the way, but there’s little sense of why they are giving so much to help the author reach his goals. Although Weihenmayer’s family appears to be proud of their son, they are largely absent from the narrative.
VERDICT Extreme sports enthusiasts will surely enjoy and certainly learn from Weihenmayer’s mistakes and triumphs. But for everyday spectators? Not so much. A rare case where the movie might be more engaging than the book.

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