Bookmarks: Beneath Blossom Rain

Book by Kevin Grange, '04

Written by Maura Beth Pagano, '12 (reviewer)
December 1, 2011

Especially sweet for the experienced hiker, Kevin Grange's Beneath Blossom Rain is a treat for any adventurer. Grange allows his readers to come along as he and his brave companions take on a 24-day, 216-mile trek through the Himalayas and the fascinating country of Bhutan. This corner of the world, so full of myth and mystery, is brought brilliantly to life through Grange’s humorous and lively prose.

Grange writes of his journey on the brutal trail known as the Snowman Trek. The storied trail—which traverses through 11 mountain passes, including seven that top out over 16,000 feet—is a considerable challenge for even the most robust outdoorsmen. Severe weather conditions, high elevations and limited access to medical treatment make the Snowman Trek one of the most difficult and dangerous trails in the world.

As Grange tells of his unbelievable expedition, one cannot sense even an ounce of fear in his words despite warnings of a grueling journey ahead. He writes, “Hiking along the trail, I had a wonderful sense of surrendering to adventure, of looking resolutely forward, of feeling ready for what may come.”

Risks aside, the Snowman Trek offers hikers an up-close-and-personal experience with the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. Warm and rich with culture, Grange’s accounts of his interactions with the Bhutanese people are the true gems of his book.

The author explains to the reader that Bhutan is governed by a policy of Gross National Happiness, meaning the people of Bhutan are genuinely committed to promoting joy in themselves and others. Grange tells us Bhutan takes happiness so seriously, they have devoted an entire branch of their government to it. He writes, “The Center for Bhutan Studies is like the Federal Reserve Bank of the U.S., only instead of prioritizing their country’s economic future, it studies the economy of bliss and makes every effort to ensure there is never a recession in Bhutan’s bank vault of joy.”

Further illustrating his experience are the several photographs Grange has placed throughout Blossom Rain. From a snapshot of grinning Bhutanese schoolboys to breathtaking images of clouds settling between soaring mountain peaks, these pictures provide even more insight into Grange’s unforgettable journey.

Conquering the trek at age 33, Grange encountered more spellbinding adventure in those 24 days than most people will ever know in a lifetime. Not only does the author let readers catch a glimpse into his time on the toughest trek in the world, he inspires them to set out on their own fearless explorations.

A few more books to add to your reading list
The Latino/a Condition: A Critical Reader (2nd ed.)
Authors: Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic/professors, School of Law
The acclaimed book brings together a wide range of new and classic Latino and Latina voices from the fields of law, sociology, history, media studies and politics. Delgado and Stefancic offer a broad portrait of Latino/a life in the United States at the beginning of the 21st Century.

Pick Up Your Own Brass: Leadership the FBI Way
Authors: Kathleen McChesney, ’76 MPS, and William Gavin, ’77 MBA
Pick Up Your Own Brass is a story of leadership at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Namely, the leadership qualities that enable the FBI to “successfully navigate through a century of war, espionage, organized crime, terrorism, fraud and corruption,” according to the book’s back cover. Alums Gavin and McChesney pulled together a compelling subject born from real-life stories from within the bureau.