Book Review #65: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

5 Nov

This beautiful book about the drama of family, country and medicine had been recommended to me one thousand times over and I could never bring myself to read it. And then this weekend, I read the entire book in one sitting on a plane ride and I’m so happy I did.

The story of twins, Marion and Shiva, born to a nun and a brash British surgeon in Ethiopia, is hard to tear your heart away from. Mostly narrated by Marion, you learn the story of his life. How he was raised by two doctors working at the same Ethiopian hospital his mother had worked at, who found love in raising him and his brother. How he loved the girl next door, until the hormones of adolescence and political upheaval in his country changed the way he saw her and their relationship.

Medicine is it’s own character in this book. Third world medicine, tropical medicine that’s driven by need and necessity rather than money and the desire to make groundbreaking medical discoveries, is covered in a raw and real manner. And the American medicine system I’m used to is partially skewered, and partially glorified, for all of its strengths and weaknesses. Every critical moment in this book centers around a hospital room. No emotion is shared unless within the bounds of an illness, injury or life threatening situation. The power that medicine holds over both patient and doctor is front and center in this book, and the way medicine was presented was fairly thought provoking.

While some would say this was about his relationship with his absent father, I felt Marion’s twin brother Shiva’s presence was the strongest. Shiva and Marion were identical in looks, family and profession. They both grew up to become highly successful medical professionals. And yet Shiva and Marion both had what the other lacked, they were mirror image in emotional and physical ways. And this took an incredible toll on their relationship. They could simply not understand each other’s motivations or feelings or goals. It’s fascinating that two people so similar, who worldessly communicated for years, could reach such an impasse.

This was a beautiful story, although the language can be tricky to power through at first, it’s well worth reading.

 

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2 Responses to “Book Review #65: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese”

  1. LKD November 5, 2012 at 6:06 pm #

    This one is currently on my bedside table. Looking forward to getting deeper into it!

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  1. HelloKatieO’s CBR4 Review #65: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese « Cannonball Read IV - November 5, 2012

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