I finally did it.
I finished Cutting for Stone, all 658 incredible pages.
But let’s back up. Back to when and why I plucked it from the shelves of Barnes & Nobles and carried it to the check-out.
Like here, I was wandering aimlessly between the “Noteworthy Fiction” and “Summer Reading List” tables, utterly lost and overwhelmed by the choices. So I did as any girl would and called my mom to ask (begging and whining were also involved) for help.
Her answer came quick and immediately sent me on a treasure hunt through the fiction section.
I’ve lost count of how many book clubs my mother participates in, how many paperbacks floating around our house are traded property between the neighborhood or how many time she has sent my grandmother home from dinner with something “she just has to read”.
She’s a reader, and an enthusiastic one at that, so when she told me this was now on her “Top 10 Ever” list…I went running for a sales assistant.
The back cover declares, “Moving from Addis Ababa to New York City and back again, Cutting for Stone is an unforgettable story of love and betrayal, medicine and ordinary miracles–and two brothers whose fates are forever intertwined.”, and I have to agree.
It is unforgettable. I found myself crying over the betrayals between brothers, lovers, friends and colleagues as often as the characters. And the miracles? Well they’re the stuff of dreams, really.
I love that this book is written by an Ethiopian-born doctor (Abraham Verghese) about a community of Ethiopian doctors. An intimacy with the setting that probably couldn’t have existed otherwise pervades the story.
Now…I could give you a plot summary, really, I could; how it’s about two twins born of a tragic romance between an Indian nun and a British surgeon at Mission Hospital in Addis Ababa, how the nun dies in childbirth and the surgeon abandons them in a fit of hysteria and how this shapes the course of the twins’ lives indellibly. But the website for the book probably does it better.
And what I thought about more, throughout the entire book, was why do my mother and I both love it so? What draws us to the subject, the people, the story?
I wondered if my mother somehow related to Hema, the fierce Indian woman who adopts and loves the twins as if they were her own? But that couldn’t be…Hema is an unlikely mother and my mother, well she’s not. She’s a natural, meant to be a mother probably long before she ever was.
Could it be the incredible connection between the brothers Shiva and Marion? My mother and her brothers are certainly close, as are myself and my sisters… but there’s no wedge between any of us.
What I settled on what the name that came up each time we discussed the story: Ghosh, our favorite character. He loves his wife, Hema, in unparalleled ways. He’s a father to all who come near and he flourishes every conversation with tidbits of wisdom sure to burrow in the recipient’s mind for future use.
Truly, he’s the literary manifestation of my grandfather, a man I miss very, very much. Four years ago, he left us in similar fashion to Ghosh: “without fanfare, with characteristic simplicity, fearless, opening his eyes that last time to make sure we were fine before he went on.”
It’s a book for anyone who has ever loved, lost, cried or laughed… or perhaps more succinctly, everyone. Humanity is contained between the bindings of this book, anyone can (and should!) relate.
(Want in on the action? Buy here!)