Wednesday, January 27, 2010
“One Amazing Thing collapses the walls dividing characters and cultures; what endures is a chorus of voices in one single room.”
—Jhumpa Lahiri, author of The Namesake
Late afternoon sun sneaks through the windows of a passport and visa office in an unnamed American city. Most customers and even most office workers have come and gone, but nine people remain. A punky teenager with an unexpected gift. An upper-class Caucasian couple whose relationship is disintegrating. A young Muslim-American man struggling with the fallout of 9/11. A graduate student haunted by a question about love. An African-American ex-soldier searching for redemption. A Chinese grandmother with a secret past. And two visa office workers on the verge of an adulterous affair.
When an earthquake rips through the afternoon lull, trapping these nine characters together, their focus first jolts to their collective struggle to survive. There’s little food. The office begins to flood. Then, at a moment when the psychological and emotional stress seems nearly too much for them to bear, the young graduate student suggests that each tell a personal tale, “one amazing thing” from their lives, which they have never told anyone before. And as their surprising stories of romance, marriage, family, political upheaval, and self-discovery unfold against the urgency of their life-or-death circumstances, the novel proves the transcendent power of stories and the meaningfulness of human expression itself. From Chitra Divakaruni, author of such finely wrought, bestselling novels as Sister of My Heart, The Palace of Illusions, and The Mistress of Spices, comes her most compelling and transporting story to date. One Amazing Thing is a passionate creation about survival—and about the reasons to survive.
One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is about people, how we can misjudge people and how even though we may not look alike or come from different backgrounds, we are all united by our humanity. In One Amazing Thing, trapped together in a room filling with water and the ceiling collapsing above, 9 people who look so different on the outside open up to one another, and learn that they aren't so different from each other after all. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is a wonderful storyteller. As we become wrapped in the story of the earthquake and how the characters are struggling to survive, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni whisks us away to another time and place with a story, their stories, passionate stories that help us see the depth of their souls.
One Amazing Thing was told by all the different characters, not just one narrator. I found this to be refreshing and enjoyable. I was able get to know the characters better this way, how they felt about each other, how they viewed themselves and the world in general. I began feeling invested in their welfare, wanting them to survive. And the way their One Amazing stories were told seemed from their hearts, with a genuine tenderness. The story itself flows easily between characters, and the writing was wonderful with just enough suspense. It's a thought provoking story, and one you shouldn't miss! This book would be a great book club selection, and there's a reading group guide for One Amazing Thing from the publisher of Voice and Hyperion.
I enjoyed reading this book so much! I want to thank the publisher, Hyperion and Voice for sending me the advanced copy! One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakarun is scheduled to be released in bookstores Feb. 2nd! You can read an excerpt of One Amazing Thing at Chitra Banerjee Divakarun website. And you can read a conversation with the author about her book at Everywomansvoice.com. *P.S. This Book is Kindle Ready!