Cover Image: Dixon, Descending

Dixon, Descending

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I really enjoyed Dixon, Descending. I went into this book relatively blind, in that all I knew about it was the Mount Everest piece. To me, it was equal parts plot driven and character driven, and I was pleasantly surprised. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an eARC. I look forward to reading more from this author.

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This is not the sort of book I usually read, but I couldn't put it down! Adventure, family dynamics, identity, feature strongly in this story. This book was almost a character study of Dixon. I was really inside his head. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC.

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Dixon, Descending is a debut novel partially set on Mt. Everest, but it's not what you expect! After missing the Olympic team in Track & Field, Dixon settled into a job as a school psychologist and stayed far away from attempting any lofty achievements. Amid this much more settled life, Dixon and his brother (Nate) decide to attempt to become the first Black Americans to summit Everest. It took me a minute to get into this one…but, I eventually got REALLY into it and it ended up deeply affecting me. I think readers expect a Mt. Everest book to be a page turner, but this book was so much sadder than I expected. It's emotional and devotes a lot of focus on the aftermath of the climb. It also explores the psychological impacts of the climb and things Dixon and Nate are dealing with in their lives back home (including confronting the truth, forgiving yourself, and sibling dynamics). And, Outen's research into what it's like to climb Mt. Everest and why an average citizen would attempt it is fascinating and top notch. A unique and deeper than usual take on the Mt. Everest novel.

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Nate suggests to his brother Dixon that they become the first Black American men to climb Mt. Everest. At first Dixon doesn't understand the allure, but once he decides to commit, he trains hard with his brother and they embark on the climb. However, climbing is never straightforward and something happens to Nate on the mountain and although Dixon makes the summit, he feels guilty about surviving. Now back in his job working at a school, he finds himself in a conflict between Marcus, a student being bullied, and Shiloh, the student who bullies Marcus, which leads to another difficult situation. Overall, while this book is about climbing Everest, it's more about the bond between the brothers, the guilt of survival, and the disparities exhibited within the schools, justice system, and in mountaineering. At times it was difficult following the story as Dixon was very introspective and flashing back and forth between timelines, but it came together in the end, especially with Shiloh's plotline. This book is not as focused on the actual climb itself, but rather it's aftermath.

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Dixon Descending by Karen Outen is a debut novel that surprised me with its emotional depth. Although it features a mountain survival experience, the book is so much more than that. It features themes of forgiveness, redemption and family dynamics.

Dixon and Nate are brothers who take on the remarkable challenge of attempting to climb Mount Everest. Part of the book is told before and during the climb, and the other timeframe takes place after the climb. The sections alternate, and I appreciated that because we learned gradually about what took place during the climb and how that experience affects the characters.

The book is really more of a character study of Dixon than a survival story. Dixon was a complicated but well-rounded character and we learn how he changed after the climb. There was a whole subplot involving some kids from the school where Dixon works. He built a relationship with a boy who is bullied and later became involved with the bully himself. This added another dimension to Dixon's character and made him appear both vulnerable and strong. I found the pacing to be spot on and the resolution satisfying.

I will recommend this to readers who like survival stories with an emphasis on the aftermath of the experience.

Thanks to Penguin Group Dutton and NetGalley for the digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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very interesting story about Dixon. I enjoyed learning about his life. I wasn't as compelled as I had hoped, but I typically struggle with non-fiction.

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This was an emotional read about resilience, the heavy burden that comes from simply surviving, and the ability to find pride in something that also caused suffering.

I loved this book. I loved the narrator, Dixon, telling his story the only way he knew how. The story was broken into parts, telling the before, during, and after of two brothers hoping to summit Mt Everest, and become the first Black American men to do so.

Stories surrounding climbing this mountain, and especially the one that is referenced in this book that happened in 1996, always left me thinking that those people were headstrong or selfish. This story made me feel the opposite. So I’m glad I was able to read a story that I could resonate with.

There’s more to this story than climbing the mountain. It’s heart wrenching and emotional. I highly recommend this read.

4.5 stars

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Thank you so much to Dutton Books for the free ARC.

Wow, this book was so much more than I was expecting.

I'll admit it isn't the type of book I'd typically pick up. Even though I do have an interest in hiking, I've never really spent much time reading or learning about Mount Everest. That may change after this book. Google is going to think I am very interested after all the searches I did while reading.

I expected this to be about two brothers' journey to become the first black American men to summit Mount Everest. What I didn't expect was the deep and rich character study that honestly blew me away. I think the way the story unfolded could have been risky had it not been handled so well, but wow did she do it well. Karen Outen will be one to watch for sure!

Dixon and Nate are two characters I won't be forgetting anytime soon. I would also buy tickets to see this as a movie SO FAST.

This will be out on Tuesday! You won't want to miss it!

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I picked up this book because I thought it would be about the trek up Mount Everest between two brothers with hopes of being the first Black American men to summit. But, that isn’t truly what this book is about.

Nate knows that his little brother Dixon is still devastated by missing the Olympic running team by two-tenths of a second. So when he suggests that they attempt to summit Mount Everest, Dixon eventually agrees and they train hard for it. Once they’re there, something goes terribly wrong. And as Dixon returns home, he not only tries to get back into his life as a school psychologist but he attempts to deal with the anger and grief of what happened on the mountain.

This book was truly heartbreaking - oftentimes I found that I was putting it away for chunks at a time because I just needed a beat to process. I did initially hope for an Everest story because I’m always captivated by the men and women who make that journey, and we did get some of that, but mostly this was a story about brotherhood, about pushing yourself, and about how lives can change in a split second.

There is a secondary storyline - which might actually be the main storyline in the number of times that we’re set inside of it - in which we see Dixon’s life working as a school psychologist at a school for boys, his particular fondness for a boy called Marcus, and the ways in which he believes he should try to help an extremely troubled kid named Shiloh. At first I was not interested in that story - I wanted Everest! And adventure! And danger! But in the end, this secondary storyline is really what gives the book its heart.

Because we see not only what kind of person Dixon is, but through this storyline we see the ways in which grief shapes us. And we see the ways that we continually try to show up for one another, even those who don’t seem to want our help.

This book was brutal, but it was beautiful. And it felt so particularly honest that by the end of it, I wanted to wrap my arms around Dixon.

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Dixon was a former Olympic-level runner but barely missed the team. This crushing disappointment has stayed with him for decades. When his brother talks him into being the first African-Americans to summit Mount Everest, Dixon can’t refuse. The climb does not go as planned and Dixon must live with the aftermath of tragedy. Everest simply serves a backdrop to the heart of the story: how the tragedy changed Dixon’s life. This is a layered story told through multiple timelines that give it so much emotional depth.

READ THIS IF YOU:
Are eager to read a story that celebrates brotherhood and strong family bonds
Know themes of redemption make your heart swell
Are more intrigued by a character study than a mountain survival story

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an electronic ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This book took me a bit to get into.. In fact, I put it down intending not to return to it. I was excited about the premise, but then, for me, it fell short in the beginning. But I re-opened the book a week later and fell into the story. Ultimately I think the pacing was the weakest link, hopping from present day to Nate and Dixon's childhood, to their fatal time on Everest. Just when the tension was ratcheting up for me, I get pulled away. This was frustrating. That said, the story is new and balances so many things: systemic racism, the effects of racism on people directly in "small" ways like expectations, the penal system, mountaineering and the effect of this outdoor adventurers on the planet, to personal grief and depression. I would read more from this author and definitely recommend this.

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If you want an unforgettable read about survival and loss with outstanding depictions of the physical and mental anguish climbers face, you need to read this book.

Karen Outen brilliantly evokes the complicated connection between the two brothers, as well as the anguish (physical and emotional) that Dixon feels after the climb.

I found the storyline with Dixon, Marcus, and Shiloh equally compelling.

This powerful and devastating read is definitely ending up on my "Best of 2024" picks.

Many thanks to Penguin/Dutton and NetGalley for a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Dixon Descending started out strong for me but lost me in the moments that didn't involve being on the mountain, The protagonist stays in his head a lot and I wanted more interaction with the other characters. Also, some of the later developments just seemed too heartbreaking for a book which already had so much tragedy.

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One of my biggest pet peeves when reading a book that contains African-American characters is that they center on black trauma. This book is not that. It is the story of two brothers who decided to climb Mount Everest. This is something unheard of in the black community, which piqued my interest. What I love about this story is that it contains successful African-American male characters who have strong family bonds.

The title Dixon, Descending is a metaphor for the issues Dixon must face on and off of the mountain. The author does a great job of making Everest a character but not the focus of the story, There are moments when I lost interest in the side story of Shiloh, Marcus, and Dixon. I assumed that the brother's climb on the mountain would be the main focus. I was disappointed it was not so. However, the author does an amazing job at keeping your interest by weaving in the climb with segments of Dixons' life before and after the events of Everest.

I applaud this decision because the story came together beautifully. The patterns of this book are essential to the story. The audience gets to experience how Everest irrevocably changed Dixion's life. During this process, he must discover the man he has become and find peace in his new reality.

This is a book I will purchase for my library and will happily recommend to others.

Thank you NetGally and Dutton Publishing for this ARC.

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