Book Review – Cutting for Stone

Cutting for Stone
Abraham Verghese

I’ve read a lot of really good books in the last twelve months, but Cutting for Stone is definitely one of the best – maybe the best – of the hundred or more books I read in 2011.  It was absolutely fantastic!

There are so many things I want to say about this book but, to understand why I loved it so much, I think it’s important to say a bit about myself and why it’s such a surprise to me that I ended up ranking it so high.
This is not the type of book I would normally enjoy.  I usually prefer a book with a lot of suspense and a moment of climax that makes my heart race.  I love a book that catches me by the throat in the first few paragraphs, and keeps me on the edge of my seat until the last page.  That was absolutely not this book.  In fact, this book was a pretty good example of what I usually don’t like.  It was what my brother would call a “slow burn.”  It’s a book that just tells a really great story and, when the action actually does start happening, it takes you by complete surprise because you weren’t expecting it.  
This book took me “forever” to read, as the first several chapters are all introduction to the main characters and to the events that would shape their lives.  At the time, the information seemed to be superfluous; but, after reading the entire book, I realized that those opening chapters were critical to the overall story.  This book took me every bit of three weeks to read because I kept thinking to myself, “Would you just get on with the story, already?”  But at the encouragement of others (not to mention the 4.5-star rating of more than 1,000 Amazon readers), I plugged along until – completely without realizing it had happened – I was fully absorbed in the story and unable to just put it down and let it go.  I just had to keep reading it, even if it was only a chapter at a time, separated by a few days.  
Cutting for Stone is a beautiful story about a set of mirror-image twins, conjoined at birth and surgically separated in the first few moments of life.  Orphaned by their mother (a nun) and abandoned by their father, it’s the story of the love they found with their adoptive parents and extended “family” in Ethiopia.  And beyond that, it’s the story about the love of medicine.
A major aspect of this book deals with medical procedures and surgeries.  Normally I might skim through these sections as they are usually way over my head and completely uninteresting to me; but that was absolutely not true with this book.  Abraham Verghese writes in a manner that even the least educated layman could understand and envision in his head.  Surprisingly I found the descriptions of medical procedures to be absolutely fascinating.
Abraham Verghese
This is probably the best book I read in the whole of 2011, and it’s one that I would strongly recommend to anyone who enjoys a good read.  Yes, it might take longer to read than the latest action thriller, but it’s one of those books that will stay with the reader for years to come.

This book is available through the Rochester Public Library in traditional hardcopy (large print), and in e-book and audio format.  For more information about this book and the author, visit the author’s website by following this link.  You can even read the first chapter on your home computer by following this link.

~ Catherine H. Armstrong

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