Review: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

cutting for stone.jpgThis is a book people have been telling me to read for a long time. Sometimes I resist books like that because I think I won’t like it on purpose. Like, if everyone else likes it, I’m going to find a reason NOT to like it just to be difficult, because that’s the kind of wonderful person I am.

However, a few pages in to this book, I could tell it was something special. I became completely immersed into this sprawling and heartbreaking story. When a friend found out I was reading this book, he said to prepare myself because NOTHING good happens in it. I’m kind of glad he told me that, because it helped me not have false expectations about it. I would have been much more devastated throughout the book had I not had this in the back of my head.

But don’t let that stop you from reading it! This is a beautiful book and a story you won’t soon forget. There’s so much happening in the book it’s hard to describe. Twin boys born of a tryst between a nun and the doctor she served. The nun dies in childbirth and the father flees in total confusion and devastation. The boys, who are Indian from their mother and English from their father, grow up in Ethiopia amidst some political upheaval. They grow up alongside the other doctors in the small hospital in which they were born – they are adopted by Hema and Ghosh, two doctors in the hospital. At times, the book reads like a medical text, as procedures are described in detail, observed through the eyes of protagonist Marion (one half of the twins).

The book describes Marion and Shiva’s life growing up and into adulthood when Marion has to leave Ethiopia. Various people weave in and out of their lives and a series of small coincidences lead to a huge conclusion in the story which will tear your heart out and stomp on it. Just a warning. It’ll be ok.

Side note: can a smarter person than myself tell me what the significance of this cover is? I don’t remember anything about an umbrella nor the woods.


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