A Long Way Up Essay - Critical Essays

Analysis

Valens is a former reporter and television producer who brings to this biography the camera’s eye for detail and accuracy. With Kinmont’s cooperation, he has written the story of nearly ten years of her life, a period that spanned the heights and depths of human existence. He relates the incredible transition in Kinmont’s life not only with a truthful tone but also with a tactful discretion that appeals to the younger reader. In describing her ordeal and triumph, the book contains a pointed lesson for readers on the uncertainties of life.

Kinmont’s story is written with a sympathetic heart but without unnecessary emotionalism. Valens’ approach emphasizes the ordinariness of his subject’s life as a teenager before the accident. Details of her waitress job at the ranch, her ski trips with friends to meets and competitions as well as for pleasure, and her brother’s teasing all underscore the fact that she was not an extraordinary person but a young girl who loved her life and the people in it. After the accident, the ordeal of adjusting to a nearly immobile life after being a champion skier, and of setting new goals for herself after being patronized by insensitive employers, changed her into an exceptional person whose life and achievements are worth noting.

Although the accident itself is the central focus of the book, Valens does not approach it with unusual drama. The events of that day are described factually; only the...

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