CUTTING FOR STONE by Abraham Verghese

Yes, I am writing a review of a book that came out in 2009. But it is rare to have a book talked about for as long as this book has been and still to be a best seller after two years. I cannot begin to count the number of people that have spoken or written to me about this book. And I know why. In my life, I have said that one of my “jobs” was to put books into people’s hands. This is a book that I happily thrust into your hand.

CUTTING FOR STONE is an epic story in many ways. It is a debut novel that follows many generations and decades in three countries: India, Ethiopia and the United States.

Twin boys are born in a small hospital and their mother, an Indian nun and nurse, dies in childbirth. The boys, Marion and Shiva, are raised by two doctors and their lives are completely intertwined with life in the hospital. Medicine is a big part of this story and while it is graphic at times, it never takes away from the brilliant storytelling.

Marion is haunted by his father, a surgeon who fled the day the twins were born. He becomes the son of two loving parents and yet his anger towards his biological father never dies. We are part of Marion’s growing up years and his development into a man, and,  indeed into a doctor. But this is not just Marion’s story. This novel has many supporting characters that give this story its passion, its power and its heart. No one in this book is an accident, readers know that Verghese cares about the full development of each character, and that leads us to care as well. But it also has Marion’s twin, Shiva, who is identical to Marion, and yet so different. They have a connection that you can only admire, but yet, as they age they find their individual paths. And those differences are what make this story so startling and so interesting.

This story is like a train going full speed and you are so glad that you are on it. The train keeps going and you keep turning the pages. As in any good drama, it has a magnificent ending that will shock you and make you ask “why?” But then you will know why.

This is a big book, but it is a big story and it demands your attention. And it is a book that compels you to talk about with other readers. I cannot urge you enough to get this book and start the first page.

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  • Jane Moore Houghton  On August 12, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Love this book! Like a first love, every book after it just doesn’t compare. Although, having said that – A Fine Balance (can’t recall author) reads very like Cutting….

  • Aledys Ver  On August 13, 2011 at 12:21 am

    It sounds like a very powerful story, Jane. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, though it’s been standing on my shelf for some time now – I have just been waiting to be in the right mood for a visceral story like this seems to be.
    Thanks for your tips!

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