Once in a while a book will take hold of your heart, soul, and mind and not let go, and that’s what happened between Cutting for Stone and me. I’d heard about this marvelous book for a year or more and finally got serious about reading it as a book club selection for December. Though it was a bit slow going at first, after about 30 pages, I was hooked.
Cutting for Stone has everything a book should have to keep its readers entranced. Themes of love, fear, jealousy, betrayal, ambition, evil, pain, and desire are all addressed. Then there’s triumph too, triumph of the human spirit to dust oneself off and keep on keeping on. Plus, the stories (for there are several) are all interwoven in such a way that it’s clear to the reader that our lives, just like those in the novel, intersect and touch others in ways that we might not realize at the time.
My “word of the year” is learn, and I certainly learned a wealth knowledge from this novel. In fact, in places it was like reading a medical textbook, and I learned more about childbirth and various diseases than I had ever even wondered about. I even learned that some diseases have smells associated with them, often fruity ones. I also learned the best treatment delivered to a patient by ear is “words of comfort,” a good thing to remember in many situations. And vocabulary! It’s a good thing that I read this tome on my Kindle because every few pages I found myself resorting to the built in dictionary, especially when coming across a new medical term.
The novel takes place primarily in Ethiopia and America, and I learned much about the former. Often Americans take our medical care and lifestyle for granted, and reading this book awakened me to a different culture and its traditions. The cultural contrast is even more apparent after Marion moves to NYC.
If you want to be moved by universal human emotions while learning a lot about medicine, Ethiopia, and language, do yourself a favor and read this wonderful novel. ShivaMarion can teach you quite a bit.