First Descent (Paperback)
Montana-born Rex dreams of following in his grandfather's footsteps and making a first descent down one of the world's last unconquered wild rivers. When he finally gets enough sponsors, Rex heads to South America to tackle the well-named El Furioso. And while he anticipates the river's challenges, he finds himself in a situation where the real danger is human.
In Colombia, he hires a guide: seventeen year-old Myriam Calambás, an indígena who has lived along El Furioso all her life. Though she loves its rushing waters, Myriam longs to go to university, become a reporter, and tell the world what is happening to her people. Her dreams, and her very survival, are in the balance when she and Rex become caught up in the clash between the paramilitaries, who work for the rich landowners, and the guerillas, who are supposed to protect the poor.
Pam Withers' skill at writing about extreme sports is reflected in this compelling novel about an endangered world and a people struggling for their very right to exist.
"...From the first page, when Rex hears a crack of river ice, sees an eight-year-old in peril, and enacts a dramatic rescue in which he must out-paddle an advancing mountain of ice, Withers flings the reader from one perilous adventure to another...."
— Booklist "
Kayaking action and encounters with the various military groups are vivid and thrilling."
— Kirkus Reviews
"...a fast-paced novel.... Mature teens will find this a compelling story of clashing cultures and social challenge."
—The Midwest Book Review