Wednesday, February 17, 2010

One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

One Amazing ThingTitle:  One Amazing Thing
Author:  Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni 
Publisher:  Voice
Publication Date:  February 2, 2010
Format:  Hardcover, 240 pages
Age Group:  Adult

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's novel, One Amazing Thing, is the story of nine people who are trapped together after an earthquake.  Well, it is actually more of nine stories as each of the characters tells of 'one amazing thing' that has happened in their life.  There is also the over arching story of their current experience as they hope for rescue while facing the possibility of death.

I honestly can't decide if I liked this book or not.  I want to.  Many of the stories are compelling and beautifully written.  On the other hand, the constantly shifting point of view from character to character, between stories and current events, and changes from first to third person and back made the novel difficult for me to follow at times.  Sometimes the narration would change between first and third person even as one character was telling a story so it was very difficult to determine who was actually speaking.  I would become absorbed in a story and then a sudden shift would occur to pull me out of it.  I realize that this was intended to mimic the experiences the characters were having as they dealt with the fallout from the earthquake but it made it hard to concentrate on the book.

I also found the ending to be abrupt and unsatisfying.  Again, I realize it mimics the experiences of the characters but it felt to me as if the author simply stopped writing without any sort of conclusion to the novel.  There were individual stories that felt this way as well - as if the story teller was interrupted and never got to finish their tale.

I think One Amazing Thing could have been a wonderful story examining the similarities of the human condition in times of distress but somehow the story as it is is lacking.

This review is based on an Advance Reading Copy sent to me for review by the publisher in response to my request via an advertisement in the Shelf Awareness newsletter.



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