by Ann Patchett
This was a strange and intriguing story, which took quite a few turns I didn\’t expect. It\’s about a research doctor who is suddenly sent by her company deep into the Amazon jungle to locate some missing colleagues. Dr. Marina Singh usually does lab research, but communication has lapsed for a long time with one of their prestigious research doctors who is in the jungle working to develop a fertility drug. They had already sent another employee down there to find the uncommunicable Dr. Swenson, but he is reportedly dead of a fever. Marina Singh was his best friend. Promising his grieving wife to find out what happened, and to get a status update for her company on Dr. Swenson\’s work, she finds herself en route to the Amazon herself. After endless waiting to make contact she finally arrives at the research station in the remote jungle where the team almost immediately engages her in the work. And things are not exactly what they seem here. Everything is strange and difficult at first- torrential rain, threatening insects, improvising with limited supplies, bizarre native customs, huge snakes, there\’s even a neighboring cannibal tribe. The story is about anthropology and the intricacies of an unexplored ecosystem, about the ruthlessness of a big drug company, about unexpected discoveries that have far-reaching implications, and about searching out answers to long-held questions. I found the ending particularly captivating, especially regarding what happened to Easter, a deaf-mute boy from another tribe who had been unofficially adopted by Dr. Swenson. It\’s a book I keep thinking about, days after finishing.
Rating: 3/5 353 pages, 2011