Audiobook Review: CUTTING FOR STONE by Abraham Verghese

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So — since I’m probably the only person who hasn’t read this book, I put it on my “must get” list to purchase from Audible. I actually started this book when it came out several years ago, but couldn’t stay with it. I thought perhaps an audio version would be easier for me, especially since it had been so long I could not remember what it was about and why I didn’t stay with it.

This novel is the lifelong story of twins boys, Shiva and Marion, born to an English doctor and a young Indian nun. Their mother dies in childbirth and their father wants nothing to do with them, so they are raised by a pair of doctors who take the boys in and grow to love them (and each other). The story traces the boys’ development, growing up amid political turmoil in Ethiopia, falling in love with the same young woman (Genet – their childhood playmate), and making lives for themselves as physicians.

So here’s the thing — I wanted SO MUCH to like this story. It’s extremely well written, it has constant and universal themes in it of family, love, and sacrifice. Plus, EVERYONE I know has loved this book. Loved it. But I have to be honest – this book made me miserable. I found the almost gruesomely vivid medical details to be too much for me (driving to school one day I had to turn it off as I was going to throw up). I loved the part when the boys were young, but then some things occurred that involved Genet and I found them extremely disturbing. I was very troubled by the story and its outcomes. Yes, it’s ¬†an incredible work, but it left me in tears and haunted (not in a good way) by the characters. What can I say? I read to escape and I enjoy positive and uplifting feelings and endings. I’m extremely sensitive.This book genuinely made me miserable, so I was happy to finish it.

I’d love to hear from others who read it and their experience!

The Audiobook was a lengthy 24 hours and was ably read by Sunil Malhotra.

Review: A MEDICAL AFFAIR by Anne McCarthy Strauss

My friends at Booktrope sent me a kindle copy of this book to review. In this riveting story, Heather Morrison is a thirty-something professional in NYC who has worked hard to be professionally successful in life. She has not been lucky in love, however, and she has spent months going through the process to adopt a baby girl from China. Heather seems to have it all together until she lands in the ER one night with a surprise asthma attack. There she meets Dr. Jeff Davis who becomes her pulmonologist, and then her lover. Heather and Jeff’s relationship has disaster written all over it right from the start. Jeff, while seemingly caring and very attractive, is married and (as if that wasn’t enough) her doctor. Heather, though, almost cannot control her attachment to him and the affair develops. As things progress, Heather’s insecurities surface, along with some serious emotional vulnerabilities and issues which were screaming out for her to get help from a trained therapist or psychiatrist. Instead Jeff treats her with his own techniques and a virtual smorgasbord of pills. When Jeff unceremoniously dumps her (of course that was coming – the guy is a serial cheater), Heather decides to fight back by taking him to court.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

As I read this book I wanted to think that stuff like this couldn’t/wouldn’t/doesn’t happen, but I’m sure it does. Jeff was just sleazy and arrogant enough to think he could break the law and get away with it. Heather was just frail enough to go along and pretty much lose her sense of rational thought (until after the break up). By the time Heather regains her senses (and it is even doubtful to me if she has by the end), her life is a mess: she has lost her job and lost the baby she was in the process of adopting, and she is popping valium, sleeping pills, and more like they are M&M’s, all the while she is chain-smoking. This book spends much time covering legal issues and ethical/medical issues. Sometimes it felt like a lot of “telling” – such as when Heather would meet with her lawyer – but a reader needed that information in order to understand and believe the story (someone might have instead thought “hey – they are consenting adults; what’s the issue?”). Poor Heather is pretty much put through the wringer and while the ending is hopeful, I can’t say it’s completely happy.

This was a really interesting read to me, and I could barely put the book down because I wanted to make sure Heather would get justice. I could see this story being made into a Lifetime movie! I know these characters weren’t real, but that little baby Lin who missed getting adopted really weighed on my mind at the end. Alas, I do take my books seriously!