Tuesday

One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Nine strangers are all that remain in the passport and visa office when an earthquake rips through their unnamed American city. Lilly - a punky teenager with an unexpected gift. Mr. and Mrs. Pritchett - an upper-class Caucasian couple whose relationship is disintegrating. Tariq - a young Muslim-American man struggling with the fallout of 9/11. Uma - a graduate student haunted by a question about love. Cameron - an African-American ex-soldier searching for redemption. Jiang - a Chinese grandmother with a secret past. And Mr. Mangolam and Malathi - two visa office workers on the verge of an adulterous affair.

With no power, barely any food, the building's eminent collapse, no cell phone reception, water that keeps flooding in and the door being stuck shut, they are trapped. Emotions are high and fear and restlessness begins to set in while they wait in the hopes of being rescued. To distract them from their fears, hunger and discomforts, Uma suggests that they all tell a story, a story of "One Amazing Thing" that has happened to them. A story that they have never told anyone before. And thus begins our journey with these nine diverse individuals as they wait together for whatever is to come next.

Although this book is rather short - it definitely carries big heart. Ms. Divakaruni has a way with words. She brings these nine people together in a very tense situation and brings each character into focus, fleshing them out, giving them real life struggles and lessons. I will confess to being a little confused (at first) as to who was who - and I did have to do some flipping back and forth to make sure I had the correct person. But once I got passed that, these characters shone brightly. You will find it hard to not to relate to at lease one of these people, if not more than one. The pacing is rather fast. You jump from one story to the next with only a short chapter in between giving you an update as to what is happening in the current post-earthquake situation.

As you read these stories, you can't help but wonder what story you would tell - what is you're one amazing thing?

This is a modern adaptation of The Canterbury Tales that is well-crafted and quite frankly, a fascinating read.

9 comments:

La Coccinelle said...

I've heard good things about this one. I can't wait to read it!

Thanks for the review!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

O am I itching to read this book. Thank you for the beautiful review.

Miriam said...

wow I haven't heard of this, but it looks cool. I like the idea of all these strangers coming together (reminds me of Lost, but not in a bad way) and I think it's a cool idea.

Ivana said...

This is the first review I've read for this book, and it sounds very interesting!

brizmus said...

I don't know why, but I always love books with multiple main characters.
A modern adaptation of the Canterbury tales - sounds super cool! :-)

Kerry said...

Wow, I have a galley of this that keeps getting pushed around and goes un-read. I'll have to pick it up! I like the concept of a modern Canterbury Tales.

Cleverly Inked said...

Sounds heart-wrenchingly beautiful

Tammy said...

Wow! Sounds like a beautiful book that I need to get my hands on-thanks for the review. It's going on my wish list.

jewelknits said...

Thank you for this review. Here is yet another undiscovered gem that I might not have read or even known about if not for great bloggers.

jewell330 at dot com

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