Book Review: Three Cups of Tea
By Shabna Cader Ceylon Today Features
As those of you who do read my reviews will know, I am not much of a documentary, real-life type of book reader. It’s not that I am uninterested. It’s just that...I simply happen to prefer fiction of reality in terms of reading content.
Three Cups of Tea landed on my plate some years ago. A friend gifted it to me. It also came extremely recommended. Something about a man’s quest to promote peace, one school at a time. Alright. Well, truth be told, there’s plenty of stories about people who do wonderful things in the name of promoting peace right? What’s so special about this one?
Greg Mortenson was on a mission to climb the treacherous k2, the second highest mountain in the world. Located in Pakistan, he comes across a chance encounter with a little village whose people are impoverished and have little to survive on, much less a decent education. First off, it was interesting to read about the people themselves, and Greg’s own quirky self is a plus. Secondly, as this was some time before Malala, here was a do-gooder, who wished to fight the war on terror through education.
It was overwhelming to read about how he came upon the idea of building the first school, and his hopes for educating not just males but also the females in the village. I liked how he easily adapted to the Islamic cultural way of life instead of being off-put by it or ignoring it simply to be as he was.
However, I do have to admit that the writing style leaned towards a tad boring and there were many occasions during which I simply put down the book because it just wasn’t appealing. Imagine this - reading an article about a man who was doing something good for a community of people who had next to nothing, but having to keep reading the same article at different lengths, over and over again.
Praise be, there was many occasions during which Greg comes off as a hero. Alright, he did do something quite heroic but to keep praising him for it, in his own book, was a bit unnerving. Okay, plenty unnerving.
Apart from praising his good deeds, the book did not highlight any of his flaws and let me tell you; that’s more than plenty unnerving, because, where are the realistic connotations of this true story? The man isn’t perfect. He left his family back in Montana for months at a time, surely that would have caused some personal issues.
One other thing I noticed as I painstakingly continued to read this book was the lack of reference to the beautiful and poetic Balti language. I bet most of the conversations were had in this language and yet, although there’s a handful of references, the author fails to define what these terms or words even mean and for someone who wouldn’t be familiar with the language, it’s quite an issue to keep reading and in staying in the loop of what it means and where the conversations are going.
Not to be completely pessimistic, but in writing this book, how is it even possible that this man would remember complete conversations with people? I’m also not sure why he had to be the author of this book although it is written in third person.
Alright so it sounds like it wasn’t the best read for me. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone either. Unfortunately I cannot remember who recommended it to me, or else I’d have simply given that person an earful by now, but let’s just say it was some hours and a couple of days of a waste in my opinion.