In her debut Adventure Memoir,
“O’Brien deftly spins the story of how she lost her high-powered corporate job and decided to climb Mount Everest. Despite hair-raising obstacles and frozen body parts littering the trail, she succeeded and gradually moved into the highest ranks of mountaineering. Readers will be thrilled by her accounts of climbing the Seven Summits, the highest mountains on each continent, achieving the Explorers’ Grand Slam after skiing to both the North and South poles. She was the first British and American woman (dual citizenship) to conquer K2, arguably the most dangerous mountain in the world, and in 2013, she became the first woman to complete the Grand Slam in less than one year.
Throughout the book, the author provides well-fleshed characterizations of guides, fellow travelers (some of whom become dear friends, some total jerks), and one fine fellow she calls Spousey. O’Brien teaches us about the tedium involved in the process of acclimatizing to high altitudes, spending months in base camps hiking up and down, and she parcels out the painful details of her childhood at the hands of careless parents, crediting those experiences with bolstering her independence and inner strength. This backstory contains a black hole that she avoids fully explaining for much of the narrative, adding tension to the procession of summits, stories that become somewhat repetitive by the end of the book.
Nonetheless, O’Brien pours her unflagging energy and hard-won life wisdom into every aspect of her book—even the epigraphs for each chapter are excellent—and her prose is commendably free of clichés and full of wit. All of these elements combine to make a vicariously engaging addition to the literature on mountaineering as well as a beacon of inspiration in these dark times. O’Brien’s warm, witty voice will bring a wide audience to her world-class adventures.”
– Kirkus Reviews
Go to the book’s official page to learn more about Vanessa’s adventure autobiography and to buy your copy.