Saturday, October 24, 2009
Cutting for Stone - Abraham Verghese
From the beginning, I knew this was going to be one of those generational tomes that I love, so I was excited to get into it and really get to know the characters. Set in Ethiopia, Marion and Shiva are twin brothers born to an Indian nun and a British surgeon. Their mother dies in childbirth, and their father, unable to comprehend her death flees to the United States. The boys are adopted by two other doctors in the hospital and raised to develop their own fascination with medicine. The story is told from Marion's perspective, the more passionate protective brother, who falls in love with the girl-next-door amidst the backdrop of a revolution. The story foreshadows Shiva's betrayal of Marion, and Marion's own departure from the family in search of his own identity in the United States. But, while you know it's coming (it's revealed on the book flap), this climactic scene actually doesn't happen until about three-quarters of the way through the novel. Instead, the book is more driven by coming to know Marion and the chaotic world around him, of wondering about his biological father while he develops an unbreakable bond with his adopted dad, and the twins' unspeakable love for each other but their inability to truly communicate. At times, I felt that the pages went on without advancing the story - but I think this was more a testament to the fact that I really wanted to know what was going to happen to Marion and I feared that he would be hurt and not find peace for himself. Mostly, I enjoyed the unfolding of Marion's life. The book is written by a Stanford physician, and the medical aspect of the novel is finely woven through the story line - fascinating without becoming too technical. All in all, this was a wonderful, though at times painful, story of family.