Let me start by saying I was less than thrilled to be reading Cutting for Stone. Before you get the wrong idea, let me clarify that statement. I really wanted to read this book. I was actually excited when it came up for my March Book Club. But then the excitement quickly faded and I realized that it was sixhundredandeightyeight pages (gulp) and I would have just a week to read it (unlike my fellow book clubbers who would have a month). Forget the gulps. This was freak out time.

Fortunately, having done this book-a-week thing before, I had a bunch of cheerleaders in my court. Friends who believed me able to do this much more than I believed myself. So, with that support, I dove into Vergheses ambitious and epic tale of two brothers.

It quickly turned out to be one of my busier weeks in the world of life. And in two or three days’ time, I had only knocked out 110 pages.

Uh oh.

But then the weekend came, and with my folks here and taking it easy, and the kiddo with his dad… I plowed. I read and read like I have never read before. And I finished CUTTING FOR STONE in a whopping three days. A feat achievable only because the book is tremendously good.

Written by a physician, Cutting for Stone is a complex and multilayered story of Mary Joseph Praise, a devout nun, who dies while delivering conjoined twin boys. Left parentless, the boys, Marion and Shiva are raised by doctors at the Missing Hospital in Adis Ababa, a hospital that cares for the poorest of poor.

Marion narrates the saga which spans over 5o years, multiple contents and conflicts that cover coming of age, connection, betrayal, renewal and redemption. Any so many ways and at so many levels, it is a love story. Love for others, self, our place in the world and our ability to impact our surroundings.

Two of my favorite passages (and there are a far many more) from the book:

“As the twin boys struggled after birth, and her colleagues struggled with the loss and shock around them, they remembered Sister Mary Joseph Praise’s regular directives: Make something beautiful of your life. As the boy’s adoptive mother contemplates her own place in the world: Wasn’t that the definition of home? Not where you are from, but where you are wanted?”

There’s too much story to cover in this review, and in no way could I summarize it as beautifully as Verghese tells it. Cutting for Stone┬áis a perfectly woven, entirely engrossing novel about human experiences, while likely different from our own, tell a story we can all identify with and appreciate.

Rating: 5 stars
Pages: 688
Genre: Fiction