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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Reason Read: Sounded interesting; faculty book club read
Method Read: Nook; iPhone (okay, I have discovered a problem with the Nook -- it runs out of battery life before I do -- thus the need for the iPhone to supplement)
Genre: Medical Fiction

When Cutting for Stone was first proposed as one of the choices for our faculty book club, I was very excited. I had read several reviews of it and it sounded really interesting. What I discovered was a book so good that I simply could not put it down.

The story encompasses the life of twin sons of an Indian nun/nurse and a British doctor who work together in a small mission hospital in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. The boys are orphaned at birth and adopted by 2 of the other surgeons from the hospital.

The author of the book, Abraham Verghese, is a doctor and writer having firsthand knowledge of the medical terminology and procedures described in the book. But instead of turning this novel into a 600 page unreadable medical text, he seemlessly integrates the medicine with the prose. In most books involving complicated medical terminology, I tend to skip portions of the text knowing that it won't impede my ability to understand the context of the book. Surprisingly I found myself carefully following the surgical procedures as described because they were so fascinating. (unusual for a science phobe as myself).

Make no mistake -- this is by no means a medical drama in the style of Robin Cook. Verghese uses his knowledge of medicine to create the skeleton -- that which the story is built around. He expertly layers the vital organs of characters and dermis of setting along with the heart of 2 twins briefly conjoined at birth to create a wonderful complex story of 2 people -- mirror images -- very alike yet very different.

The highest complement I can give a book is to compare it to The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, a book that is so well written it ruins all others for me. This book is of that caliber and may replace The Kite Runner as my favorite.

Don't be intimidated by its 600 pages -- they will flash by all too quickly and want you leaving more.

Grade -- A++
Recommend? YES

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