Wednesday, March 15, 2017

One Amazing Thing - Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Title: One Amazing Thing
Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Paperback: 220 pages (my version ARC)
Publisher: Hyperion/Hachette Books
Published date: 2010
FTC: Received ARC from publisher

I became a fan of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni back in college when I read her novels Sister of My Heart and The Vine of Desire. I then I bought and read The Mistress of Spices which I enjoyed as well. I've had the ARC of One Amazing Thing for way too long. I'll blame it on the fact that in 2010 I became pregnant and life just gets in the way. I can't believe I haven't read this before now. It's a short novel, quick and well-written. I love the premise of the story: "I don't believe anyone can go through life without encountering at least one amazing thing."

Back of the book:

A punk teenager with an unexpected gift. An upper-class Caucasian couple whose relationship is falling apart. 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 these nine disparate people are trapped together in the immediate aftermath of an earthquake, their struggle to survive is captivating enough-- but award-winning novelist Chitra Divakaruni takes their situation to the next level, as each of the nine takes a turn sharing "one amazing thing" from his or her own life.

My thoughts:

The story starts out with a bunch of strangers in an Indian consulate office in an American city when a disastrous earthquake hits and traps them all underground. To buoy spirits, it's suggested that everyone tell a personal story. This novel reads quick because really it is a series of short stories about each of these nine characters with the backdrop of the earthquake. 

I find it's a such a great scenario because I believe all of us could find a moment like this where we are surrounded by strangers: on a bus, doctor's office, DMV, you name it. This novel makes you more aware that everyone has their stories, their amazing things as well as their sadness and pains. Opening up and telling our stories is something that helps us get past the strangeness and make us realize that we all have more in common than we realize. As each story unfolds, each character's idiosyncrasies were made clear and understood.  Isn't it odd that for many of us, opening up is one of the hardest things to do, with strangers or even with people we closely love. My Bible study group was talking about something similar recently - about reviewing our life and finding the amazing things...finding God at work in our lives.

One Amazing Thing would be a great book club read. I think it's short enough that people could realistically read it and my ARC came with some fabulous discussion questions. For instance: If you were to tell the story of one amazing thing that happened in your life, what would it be? What did you learn about some of the cultures and religions explored in the book? If you've read the book, what did you think about the ending? Have you read One Amazing Thing? What did you think?


"Looking back, I could not point to one special time and say, There! That's what is amazing. We can change completely and not recognize it. We think terrible events have made us into stone. But love slips in like a chisel - and suddenly it is an ax, breaking us into pieces from the inside."

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