It was my turn to pick a book in my book club when I came across "Across Many Mountains: A Tibetan Family's Epic Journey from Oppression to Freedom." This book is written by Yangzom Brauen, who is the third generation that is depicted in the book, which focuses on details surrounding the Chinese take-over of Tibet and they it impacted this family then and for generations to come.
This book looks at three generations of Tibetans, providing rich detail about what their lives have been like before, during, and after the take-over. It also gives us a look at what became of their cultural traditions and beliefs once they reached freedom and time marched on. We learned a lot in this book about Tibet, the Chinese take-over, Tibetan Buddhism, and their culture and customs.
I thought this book provided a great look at what it was like to be a part of each of the three generations. Not only did I enjoy learning more about Tibetans, but I also found it interesting to see how things have changed from one generation to the next. It was interesting to see what they held onto, and what traditions where left behind.
I am a nonfiction lover, so this book hit a home run with me, and it turned out to be a great book club pick, providing a lot of discussion. It's always a real treat when you can read a book where you walk away from it having learned something as we did here, as well as loving someone in the book. You can't help but to love the grandmother in this story, who has lived a life of such strength, and has demonstrated courage, faith, and perseverance.
Rating this book five stars out of five, I highly recommend picking it up and checking it out!
Note: There were no discussion questions online that I could use for the book club, so I created this list below. Feel free to use it as you would like.
“Across Many Mountains”
- “Across ManyMountains” is a book that sheds light on three generations of Tibetans, but begins with their experience in Tibet during the Chinese invasion. Where you surprised to learn about how the Chinese treated the Tibetans during this time?
- Had you been in their position, would you have risked the trek across the Himalyas to try and get away from the oppression?
- Kunsang is a woman of great strength who endures a lot to help her family. What characteristics and qualities do you think help her to do this?
- The Tibetans are a peaceful people who try to take non-violent action through protesting to try to gain back their independence or autonomy. Do you think it was better that they stick to their tradition of non-violence, or would they have been more successful had they created a stronger military force to fight back?
- What do you think is the main motivation for the Chinese government to want to invade and take over the Tibetan region?
- Do you think this is a story more about survival of a culture, one about persevering, or both? Why?
- Sonam lives a childhood that puts her in different countries and teaches her about survival. In what ways do you her childhood experiences influenced who she became as an adult?
- Yangzom writes that “…Tibet’s fate is closely tied to China’s incredible economic power… we have to bear in mind that there is hardly any product today not bearing the stamp MADE IN CHINA.” How much of an impact do you believe this plays in Tibet’s fate?
- In 2015, the Dalai Lama announced that he believes he may well be the last one. The Chinese government has declared they will pick the next Dalia Lama. What are your thoughts on them choosing the next one and how might that impact Tibetan culture and tradition?
- The Dalai Lama has been called a “dangerous political separatist” and a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” by the Chinese government. They have also warned the U.S. government against having a public audience with the Dalai Lama. Do you believe what the Chinese government says about him, and do you feel the government should avoid listen to them and avoid public meetings with him? Why or why not?
- Do you believe they should be fighting for independence or autonomy? Do you believe that independence is something that would no longer be possible after all that has happened?
- Yangzom writes “…that’s why I have written this book: to prevent the culture, traditions, and true story of Mola and Amala’s country from being forgotten.” She also writes “This Tibet is disappearing not only because the Chinese have occupied our country, but also because the people who knew it will no longer be alive.” What, if any, obligations do you think the younger generation has in helping to keep the memory alive? Or should they just adapt, change, and move on going forward?