Reading. Writing. Simply being.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett


I listened to this novel driving to and from work, so it was a little harder to take notes.  Hope Davis (actress) reads the book and she nearly put me to sleep at times (I love her voice).

Marina, a medical student with experience in mostly cholesterol turned researcher, works for a pharmaceutical company that has questions surrounding the disappearance of Marina’s coworker and the progress of a fertility drug being studied in the Amazon. Marina takes one for the team and travels to Brazil to investigate, which introduces several conflicts.  One of my main complaints is these conflicts didn’t all seem to be resolved or even mentioned at the end of the book.  I know not every book is packaged all nicely at the end, but this just seemed a little lazy by Patchett who failed to return to even some bigger problems.

Conflict 1: Keeping the trees a secret from the entire world to avoid any corruption of the Lakashi tribe.  What ends up happening to these trees?  Does the world find out about them?  This is not the focus of the book, but I’m curious.

Conflict 2:  The drug’s potential to successfully impregnate older women and the impact it may have on preventing malaria.  What was discovered from the tissue of the unborn child?

Conflict 3:  Marina’s relationship with Mr. Fox.  Not too important.

Conflict 4: Marina’s relationship with her own father.  All these dreams from the medicine she takes just kind of all of the radar and are never brought up again.  But so much time is put into them early in the book.

Conflict 5:  Dr. Swenson.  How long does she stay?  Last we hear she asks Marina to fill for her when she is gone.

So that’s my main complaint.  My favorite thing about the book are all of the ironies.  I love irony.  Swenson takes Easter from his tribe and ends up pregnant, but she is the least motherly of any character in the story.  The person Karen reaches out to in order to find her husband is the same person who sleeps with him.  Anders ends up with malaria (they think) yet he is surrounded by an anti-malarial drug.  I could go on.

Now for some quotes I liked:

“No one tells the truth to people they don’t actually know, and if they do it is a horrible trait. Everyone wants something smaller, something neater than the truth.”

“You throw a person in the river and then make a spectacle of jumping in to save them.”

“The part when they are together for a while, the two of them, before things go wrong. The way things ended always obliterated the genuine happiness that had come before and that shouldn’t be the case.”

“Hope is a horrible thing, you know. I don’t know who decided to package hope as a virtue because it’s not. It’s a plague. Hope is like walking around with a fishhook in your mouth and somebody just keeps pulling it and pulling it.”


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This entry was posted on July 5, 2016 by in book review, culture, Motherhood, Reading, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , .


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