A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
written by Anthony Marra
published by Hogarth
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Did I enjoy this book: Yes.
When a book is as highly celebrated as this one, I wonder why authors and publishers seek my opinion. Maybe they are interested in hearing a response from an everyday, unbiased, non-expert reader. Who knows?
I’m afraid I have little to offer except to add to the chorus of praise this book has received already. It’s beautifully written, poignant, and very personal. It’s everything an epic story should be.
I’m often wary of stories that skip around in time and scene. It frequently interrupts the flow of the story and throws me off topic. Marra brilliantly adds a timeline to the beginning of each chapter. It’s a perfectly relevant yet uncontrived way to remind us where we are in the story. I’ve never seen time/scenes written like that before, but I liked it so much I hope future authors take note.
I knocked off a half star because it’s a long, laborious read. I think most readers will find it worth the time and effort, but it ran a little long for my taste.
Would I recommend it: Yes.
About the book – from Goodreads: In a small rural village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa watches from the woods as Russian soldiers abduct her father in the middle of the night and then set fire to her home. When their lifelong neighbor Akhmed finds Havaa hiding in the forest with a strange blue suitcase, he makes a decision that will forever change their lives. He will seek refuge at the abandoned hospital where the sole remaining doctor, Sonja Rabina, treats the wounded.
For Sonja, the arrival of Akhmed and Havaa is an unwelcome surprise. Weary and overburdened, she has no desire to take on additional risk and responsibility. But over the course of five extraordinary days, Sonja’s world will shift on its axis and reveal the intricate pattern of connections that weaves together the pasts of these three unlikely companions and unexpectedly decides their fate. A story of the transcendent power of love in wartime, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a work of sweeping breadth, profound compassion, and lasting significance.
Now with Extra Libris material, including a reader’s guide and bonus content from the author.