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state of wonderTitle: State of Wonder

Writer: Ann Patchett

Publisher: Harper (2011)

Pages: 353p

Bought at: Periplus Setiabudhi Bandung (IDR 60k disc 20%, bargain book!)

Dr.Marina Singh is a research scientist working in a pharmaceutical company in Minnesota. Her dull life is suddenly changed when she is sent to Brazil by his boss, to meet with her former mentor and fellow coworker, Dr. Annick Swenson, who is doing an ongoing mysterious research of a fertility drugs, among a tribe in Amazon. Marina’s former coworker, Anders Eckmann, has been sent there before, but the news had reached Minnesota that he has died in Amazon jungle.

The journey to Brazil – and eventually to Amazon- is changed Marina’s life drastically, pushing her to get out of her comfort zone and facing a tragedy in her past, that involved Dr. Annick Swenson. And when Marina finally has a chance- and courage- to board a boat to Amazon, she finds incredible things that she never dared to imagine before.

This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read so far this year. I never read Ann Pratchett before, and people praised her so much for her previous work, Bel Canto. I’m glad that State of Wonder has become my first encounter with the talented writer, since I didn’t have high expectation on this book.

Turned out, I like it so much- from the main character, Marina, who is so vulnerable you just have to hug her tight, to the amazing setting of Amazon jungle, and even one of the other characters, a doctor from Indonesia, Dr. Budi (even though I’m a bit confused at first because Dr.Budi is a female, and people kept calling her Budi- a common male name in Indonesia). The story unfolded beautifully, with many unexpected twists and turns- and a very haunting ending.

I can imagine vividly the humid air of the jungle, the fear of mosquitoes and malaria, the unfamiliar lives of Amazon’s tribes. Their rituals, traditions, the language barrier and the realization that actually you can understand each other without using a certain language. The interaction between Marina and the tribe people, and her revelation to Dr. Annick about her haunting past – everything fits perfectly into the story.

This is an eye opening book, and I am ready to encounter other Ann Patchett’s masterpieces.

This post is submitted for What’s in a Name Challenge, for “emotion” category.