Peak Summary and Study Guide

Roland Smith


  • 26-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 30 chapter summaries and 5 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by a published author with a degree in English Literature
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Peak Summary and Study Guide

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 26-page guide for “Peak” by Roland Smith includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 30 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Friendship and Fatherhood.

Plot Summary

Released in 2007, Roland Smith’s novel Peak is the story of a teenager—whose name is Peak—who has a lot of mountains to climb, both metaphorical and literal. When he is fourteen years old Peak climbs a skyscraper in New York to place his tag on it: a spraypainted small, blue mountain. He is caught and arrested. As he waits for a hearing in front of the judge, another boy tries to emulate him by scaling a building and falls to his death. Peak’s attorney says the state wants to make an example of him by holding him responsible for the other boy’s death. He could potentially face three years in juvenile detention and then be tried as an adult.

Peak’s estranged father Josh Wood appears at the last moment with bail money and a plan. He will take Peak to live with him in Thailand, which will allow Peak to escape the oppressive media attention and the detention center. Josh and Peak’s mother Teri were once a climbing team who set several world climbing records and had lucrative support from sponsors. When Teri fell during a climb and broke her back, her climbing career ended. Joshua continued to travel, climb, and teach, robbing Peak of a chance to know him. Before he leaves New York, Peak says goodbye to his stepfather Rolf, his mother, and his younger twin sisters.

When they arrive in Bangkok, Josh has a surprise for him. He is going to take Peak on an attempt to reach the summit of Mount Everest. If he succeeds, Peak will be the youngest climber to reach the summit. This is a dream come true, but Peak soon develops reservations. He learns that Josh’s company is in trouble. Josh hopes to save his business through the media exposure that Peak’s climb will bring Josh. When Peak asks Josh if that was one of the reasons for helping him avoid the juvenile detention center, he says yes. But Josh also says that he wants to use this chance to take responsibility and become a real father.

Peak soon meets a Buddhist monk named Zopa who will accompany them on the climb along with his grandson, Sun-jo. A reporter named Holly Angelo—who is hoping to write an exclusive story about Peak—has also managed to get herself onto the expedition.

Their time on the mountain involves various dangerous situations in which they move from camp to camp, fighting storms, and letting their blood oxygen levels acclimate to the increasingly dangerous elevation. As they climb, Peak continues to feel ambivalent about his father, especially when he learns that Sun-jo is almost the same age as him. If Sun-jo completes the climb and he does not, Josh will still be able to say that his expedition was responsible for the youngest climber ever to reach the summit of Everest.

When they finally reach the top, Peak realizes that Sun-jo will benefit more from the fame than he will. He lets Sun-jo reach the summit first and films him. Peak gives up his dream to help someone else. Afterwards, he decides that he is ready to go back to New York. He is no longer interested in climbing Everest, or pretending that Josh will be the father he needs.

Peak is set against the backdrop of the political tensions between Tibet, China, and the largely Western tourists that comprise the Everest expeditions. The lives of the Sherpas, who are often relegated to servant status, are also an important facet of Peak. It’s a novel of deceptive simplicity that will resonate with climbers, but also those who have struggled with parental relationships, stepfathers, or coming of age.

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Chapters 1-5