Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

Anthony Marra

In the final days of December 2004, in a small rural village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa hides in the woods when her father is abducted by Russian forces. Fearing for her life, she flees with their neighbor Akhmed--a failed physician--to the bombed-out hospital, where Sonja, the one remaining doctor, treats a steady stream of wounded rebels and refugees and mourns her missing sister. Over the course of five dramatic days, Akhmed and Sonja reach back into their pasts to unravel the intricate mystery of coincidence, betrayal, and forgiveness that unexpectedly binds them and decides their fate.
With The English Patient's dramatic sweep and The Tiger's Wife's expert sense of place, Marra gives us a searing debut about the transcendent power of love in wartime, and how it can cause us to become greater than we ever thought possible. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

This is a story that is going to stay with me for a very long time. It was so beautifully written and I ended up with such mixed emotions - sad, angry, hopeful........ This is one of those books that you really want to devote time to - it is not faced paced, nor should it been read that way. The author truly has this amazing way of putting words together and much of this would be missed if a reader tried to skim.

While fiction, this is based on a true time period in Chechnya history. I am always amazed that people actually survive times like those outlined in this story. The strength of character, the determination to survive, to be honorable when times are desperate. Unfortunately, we must also read about the opposite - taking advantage of the weak, profiting off people who have nothing and even betrayal.

At times, this was difficult to read due to the harshness of the realities of war and it’s aftermath. Oh how I wished this could have been a story that was neatly wrapped in a bow at the end. But, this would not have held true to the rest of the story and I am glad the author chose not to do that.

Honestly, when I read a book like this, I am humbled. Do we really understand what it is to live under the light of freedom? This book will make me thankful everyday for all that I sometimes take for granted and I hope I never forget.

A first novel by Mr. Marra that should not be missed. Certainly an author to watch.

I am so grateful that I was given permission by Crown Publishing Group, via Netgalley, to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: May 7, 2013.

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