You’ve probably seen the cover of Tree Cups of Tea dozens of times, and if you’re like me, you might have even picked it up on visits to your local bookstore, flipping through a few pages before returning it to its table or shelf. It’s not that I didn’t think the story looked interesting, but to be perfectly honest, when it came out, I was mostly reading books by Iranian women dealing with their country’s unique history and current issues. When I saw that Three Cups of Tea was about Pakistani and Afghan schools and the man who was helping to build them, my interest would flag.
I was glad when my mom gave me a copy of Three Cups of Tea for Christmas last year and excited about finally reading it, maybe because I felt a little guilty for putting it down all those times. I’m just about halfway through the book. It’s a quick read and very, very sad and sweet. Briefly, it’s about the true life story of Greg Mortenson, an American mountain climber, who sacrifices so many comforts, working hard hours in a hospital and sleeping in his car, so that he could save every bit of his pay to build a school in a remote mountain village in Pakistan after seeing children with no teacher sitting quietly on frozen ground working on their lessons. The story is very touching and has made me laugh and tear up a little by turns.
I’ve read some complaints about the writing-style of the book. It seems that what most people dislike about it, is that it is not a first hand account or that it seems like prose. I think it feels like something between nonfiction and a novel, which I personally find enjoyable. David Oliver Relin, the author, wrote the book based on interviews and visits with Greg Mortenson and many others. I think it would be a difficult task to balance a narrative and incorporate all the important facts and details and I think he did quite a good job. I don’t think that this story would have been told without him. For more information about the Central Asia Institute, the schools they’re building, and ways you can help visit their site.