Book Review of Cutting for Stone

Cutting for Stone
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Cutting for Stone is now one of the best books Ive read so far this year. If one is expecting a light easy read, this isnt it. It is very engrossing, complex and filled with medical terms. This book made me fall in love with Addis Ababa and the missionary doctors by the narrative style in which he city and that community was described.

The story is very complex adorned with the political turmoil of Ethiopia back in the times of Emperor Selaisse. The narrative covers the life of the twin brothers since before their conception until their middle age years, it covers secret love, lust, sexual explorations at the early age of 11 and then poverty, cruelty and social unrest happening in Addis Ababa.

Since the first death occurred during Sister Mary Joseph Praise and her nun companions first doomed voyage from India to Ethiopia I knew the book was going to be filled with cruelty, despair and suffering. I was not far from it, I cried so many times but that made me commit to the stories even more. The book deals with forbidden secret love, sacrifice, abandonment, romance, adoptive parents and then the sexual awakenings of the brothers at the tender age of 11.

The strong family ties built by the couple of physicians who raise the twins as their own is a testament of the bonds of love that come from the heart and not from the womb as well as the support of the small community that watched over them.

I found it inspiring how the new family was so dedicated to curing, attending, saving the poor from that neglected and poorly supplied hospital and what the doctors and then the boys as they grew had to do to provide life saving medical procedures to the people.

There are three love stories going on, Dr. Thomas Stone and Sister Mary Joseph Praise, Hemalatha and Gosh and then the twins and the girl who causes the rupture between them and who causes one of them to leave his homeland and the only family he knew for America.

The details of how they fall in love or in lust are not portrayed chronologically but rather disjointed in the way they were presented. This didnt bother me at all; it was as if the missing pieces of each puzzle had to be put together by the reader in that fashion.

Mr. Verghese didnt omit any details, the music and rhythms of the people, the food, the incense, the local customs and religious practices were part of the essence of the story with medicine as the backdrop. The medical terminology did now slow the flow of the stories for me and I loved it.

I would have enjoyed to see Marion fall in love and get married but like his father, he was the type of man who cold only give his heart twice, to his mother and then to the woman solely intended for him.

Read the book, it is worth it and I believe it will stay with you.