Thursday, March 25, 2010

One Amazing Thing

Title: One Amazing Thing

Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Date Finished: March 8, 2010

Personal Book Count: 11 out of 100

Rating: 4 out of 5

Genre/ Subject: fiction

First Line: When the first rumble came, no one in the visa office, down in the basement of the Indian consulate, thought anything of it.

Summary: from the authors webpage-

“Late afternoon in an Indian visa office in an unnamed American city. Most customers have come and gone, but nine people remain. A punky teenager with an unexpected gift. An upper class Caucasian couple whose relationship is disintegrating. A young Muslim-American man struggling with the fallout of 9/11. A graduate student haunted by a question about love. An African-American ex-soldier searching for redemption. A Chinese grandmother with a secret past. And two visa office workers on the verge of an adulterous affair.
When an earthquake rips through the afternoon lull, trapping these nine wildly individual characters together, their focus first jolts to a collective struggle to survive. There’s little food. The office begins to flood. Then, at a moment when the psychological and emotional stress seems nearly too much for them to bear, the young graduate student suggests that each tell a personal tale, “one amazing thing” from their lives, which they have never told anyone before. As their surprising stories of romance, marriage, family, political upheaval, and self-discovery unfold against the urgency of their life-or-death circumstances, the novel proves the transcendent power of stories and the meaningfulness of human expression itself. One Amazing Thing is a passionate creation about survival—and about the reasons to survive.”

Why did I pick this book? : I received an ARC copy off of

Review: This was my first book from this author for me. At nine characters, I found it a fairly large cast for a book with a little over 200 pages. At first I had to make myself a ‘cheat sheet’ to keep track of who was who. But as I read on and got to know the characters, I found I had no difficulty. I like the format, in how they took turns narrating, even before the individual stories started. Although it is not a new concept (strangers trapped together and telling their inner most secrets), it was very effective in this case. It could have been really heavy and depressing, and although not airy and fun, I never felt it went to some place dark, and it easily could have. The writing is poetic in places, for example, on one page the author compares sobbing to cloth tearing. There were nine different stories, by very different people. I felt like all the stories were fleshed out enough not to feel 2-dimensional. It gave a new perspective on everyone, and an interesting turning point for each. It made me think how interesting it is decisions, both large and small, lead us where they do in life. This is one of those books that stick with you for a while after you are finished.

Agree? Disagree? Recommendations? Any insights, suggestions, or comments on the book or format, or blog at all are most welcome. If you have read this and/ or review it yourself, please let me know. Can you think of any books like this? Give me a recommendation! =D

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