4 out of 4 stars
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As Dave Mauro approaches middle age, he boasts the safe life of a financial planner with a wife and two perfect children. Looming beneath the idyllic façade is a man unsatisfied and miserably unhappy. After attempts to remedy his life, he does the only thing left to do and witnesses the mess of pieces crumble before him. In Altitude Journals, the reader finds a man in the darkest part of his life accepting a wild opportunity to climb one of the Seven Summits of the worlds despite complete lack of experience.
Unsure of everything, he soon finds that in order to earn back his own sense of dignity, he must face mountains that will require him to fight beyond the limits of his own will. Over a seven-year period of time, Mauro traverses continent lines and polarizing cultures while opening his eyes to the rawness and beauty of life. Through frostbite, luxury resorts, and cannibals, his calling becomes clearer as he learns how to decipher its voice. Each mountain he climbs offers secrets only those who seek answers from the top of the world are able to find. Through the pinnacles and pitfalls of a fallible life, Mauro shows redemption is possible.
In this debut work of non-fiction, Dave Mauro surprised me from start to finish. His roots in improvisational comedy are able to turn the drama of rebuilding one’s life from rock bottom into a theatrical production one is eager to gobble up. His clever wit guides the reader along unassuming, until sly juxtaposition jolts the reader out of all seriousness. The precise effect had me laughing out loud. While I enjoyed his quirkiness throughout the novel, there is no doubt Mauro is an expert craftsman of words. While lost in the scenery of an expedition, I would stumble upon an unexpected statement immensely profound that I was forced to reread it in order to grasp the weight of its truth. Above all, Mauro’s playful take on rebuilding his life was the highlight.
While the adventurous nature of the content would make one assume this story is for the adrenaline junkie, patience is required to truly appreciate the experience. At times, I found my motivation for reading waning as the time between action points was significantly longer than I anticipated. The ideal reader must be content with the pace it takes to release the clutches of a lifetime of crippling attitudes. It doesn’t glamorize the rawness of life, but allows transparency to dissolve any fantastical notion of what it is like to be a mountaineer
Altitude Journals truly deserves a 4 out of 4 stars rating. It takes insurmountable courage to pursue redemption under the shadow of shame. Mauro showcases beautiful transparency and delights with comic relief. There’s even bonus photographs that candidly display pivotal moments of his journey. Readers are sure to be entertained and inspired by this compelling true story.
The Altitude Journals
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