NO MOUNTAIN TOO HIGH by Andrea Gabbard


The Story of the Women of Expedition Inspiration
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Reflective, encouraging stories of 17 women who had breast cancer and the challenges they set themselves--including the scaling of Mount Aconcagua--from Gabbard (coauthor of Lou Whittaker: Memoirs of a Mountain Guide, not reviewed). The target of Expedition Inspiration was to get a team of breast cancer survivors atop the Western Hemisphere’s highest mountain, Argentina’s Aconcagua and, in so doing, to raise money for breast cancer research. These were ordinary women, from all walks of life, from 18 to 60 years old, and from all corners of the country, held together by the bond of breast cancer. With the expedition as a backdrop, Gabbard, who was invited along to chronicle the training and climb, tells the breast cancer histories of the women: the unimaginable first days after the discovery of the cancer; how they came to their decisions to have lumpectomies or mastectomies and if they chose to have reconstructive surgery; the hellacious tours of chemotherapy and radiation. The women also recount the emotional side of the ordeal, from doctors who were cold and superior and often clueless, to surgeons who might well wear haloes; careers that were shattered or put on hold; husbands and lovers who faded and disappeared; children who didn’t. The text is chiefly long quotes cobbled together in an emotional mosaic, which gives the book a certain raw immediacy--brashness and vulnerability duking it out--but it’s also artless, fragmenting the narrative into competing segments. Yet those who can navigate the bumpy flow of the account will be rewarded with disarming portraits of survival, including moments of humor, of laughing in the face of death (one woman went into surgery with a happy face painted on her breast). Despite the book’s ungraceful format, readers will likely be awed by the passion, brio, and honorability of these women. (photos, not seen)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-58005-008-5
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Seal Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1998