Saturday, May 28, 2011

Review: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Publisher: Vintage
Publishing Date: January 26th, 2010
Genre: Contemporary Adult Fiction
Pages: 667 pgs
ISBN: 9780375714368

Rating: 5 stars

Summary from GoodReads:
A sweeping, emotionally riveting first novel—an enthralling family saga of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home.

Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politics—their passion for the same woman—that will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him—nearly destroying him—Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.

An unforgettable journey into one man’s remarkable life, and an epic story about the power, intimacy, and curious beauty of the work of healing others.

My Review:
Well this book is a mammoth of a book with a whopping 667 pages but I read it quickly. The novel is set mostly in Ethiopia and focuses on a set of orphaned twins. One twin seems completely cut off emotionally while the other feels everything with such intensity. While I was reading I had to wonder if Shiva had Aspergers Syndrome (a form of autism). This book is emotionally heart wrenching but the landscape of the book is so breathtaking. I loved reading about different cultures colliding in this book. I have to admit that I became a bit frustrated with some of the characters in this novel. Genet was one of them. She was so self centered and destructive when she could have done so much with her life. I really dislike when people say they have been dealt a shitty hand in life and use it as an excuse to destroy their own life. I have had to overcome quite a bit to get where I am today. I used my situation to empower me to be better and to attain my goals. It just seems counterproductive to destroy your own life. Anyhow, I was also frustrated with Dr. Stone. How can you just leave your children without a mother. They were fortunate to have been adopted by two very loving parents but I can't beleive someone would just leave their children behind in another country. Overall, I loved this book. I give it 5 out of 5 stars for the amazing writing and character development.


  1. I am in the middle of the book now, and just googled "Cutting for Stone" "Shiva" and "Autism." I have a son with Autism and when reading Shiva's character, I can see so many similiarities. I also thought Shiva had Asperger's. Good Eye!

    1. I have worked with many children who have autism doing ABA therapy and respite care so I that's where I drew my comparisons from. I can only imagine how challenging some days must be for you.

  2. I was so angry every time Shiva did something hurtful but after he betrayed Marion, it finally sunk in that he must be on the autism spectrum. His speech delay, his inability to understand how is actions but impacts the feelings of others, he's focus on the here and now, his honesty (the book often said he would have told people things if only they had asked - individuals with autism aren't prone to lying), his mathematical gifts, his interests in technology - inventions, machines, taking apart and rebuilding the motor-cycle. He thought nothing of showing up at the Staff Probationer's door and was so perplexed as to why Marion would be upset. He didn't understand why Marion was upset about Genet. While it wasn't in the book, I could almost hear him thinking "Why are you upset. You didn't want to have sex with her" because he couldn't comprehend the longing. Marion was acutely aware how having sex with Genet would hurt everyone - Rosina, Hema, Ghosh...all of which was completely lost on Shiva.

  3. I think you are being too harsh on Genet. You can't hold everyone to the same standard. She did have a rough upbringing - her father who didn't want to spend time with her, her insane mother...she felt horrible enough about what she did to allow herself to be mutilated...

    She doesn't deserve a free pass...what she did to Marion was horrible...but I still feel horrible for her.

    Good for you for overcoming your obstacles, but not everyone is capable of that.