State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Publication date: June 7, 2011
Hardcover: 368 pages
On the library stacks: Adult fiction
Ann Patchett's website.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Marina Singh is a pharmacologist at a Minnesota-based pharmaceutical company. She receives word that her officemate, Anders Eckman, has died of a fever in the Amazonian jungle of Brazil when he went to determine the status of a drug in development. Anders' wife, Karen, begs Marina to go down to Brazil to determine that Anders is really and truly dead and to bring home his belongings.
Mr. Fox, the company CEO and Marina's lover, also asks Marina to go to Brazil to try to reign in the rogue researcher, Annick Swenson. Marina was a student of Dr. Swenson's when she was a resident in obstetrics, but switched to pharmacology after an accident. Their shared history makes Marina hesitant to go, but an attractive choice since she knows the woman in question.
Once in Brazil, Marina meets a wonderful cast of characters including the driver, the bohemians who live in Annick's apartment, the Lakashi tribe whom the researchers work among, a deaf boy who comes from a neighboring cannibalistic tribe, and the indomitable Dr. Swenson. Marina is ultimately able to face her fears from the past, grow and develop as a woman and as a doctor, and to find the truth through the intricate web of lies and ethical dilemmas.
I enjoyed Marina's emotional journey as much as her eye-opening physical journey and survival in Brazil. I thought Marina was a very sympathetic protagonist and someone I would like as a friend. When I set the book down, I couldn't stop thinking about it and couldn't wait to get back to it. The novel held together so well for me, despite some far-fetched coincidences, until the last 5 pages. At that point, I wish I had just stopped reading because those final pages undid so much of what was woven together for me so beautifully in the story. However, I still highly recommend this novel. This may be my first Ann Patchett novel, but it definitely won't be my last.
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Source: I received this book from the publisher as part of the TLC Book Tour.
3 hours ago