This book gets a solid "meh." I didn't connect with it, never felt that
it had anything deeper or meaningful to say about about life, about
medicine, about family or children, and then, near the end, one thing
made me enraged. I don't know what Ann Patchett was trying to achieve
with this book, but I didn't get it. There was the surface layer, and
Incredibly passive biomedical researcher Marina is
gently nudged into travelling to Brazil in search of her former teacher,
who is there allegedly developing an incredible drug to extend
fertility for women indefinitely. Oh, and to look for information on the
death of a colleague. Once there, she drifts vaguely into the orbit of
her former teacher, Dr. Swenson, and taken along to her hidden camp.
There, she...look, I don't know what she does. I mean, I know what
happens in the story, but how it affects her? It's all very vague, and
we aren't given enough to really know how she changes, other than that
initially she finds the life icky and then doesn't.
We don't really know anything about Marina except her passivity, so, wow, is it difficult to give a rat's ass about her.
could be something to be said here about biomedical ethics, about
lifestyle, about anything, really. Instead, what seems to be chosen is a
very shallow look at very deep issues.
Oh, and then the part that enraged me. Look, if she decides she can't
go back to get the child she just left alone with a hostile tribe, and
suffers guilt because of that, that would be one thing. But to give it
some pseudophilosophical justification about how "people are only
allowed to go into hell once" is fucking ridiculous. One, it wasn't
hell, it was a traumatic experience. Two, people aren't goddamned
limited to one, and then exempted from all future trauma. It's certainly
not a a moral justification for inactivity.
then the book ends. And nothing is really changed, Marina may decide to
go back to the Amazon camp, but I don't really care. I don't think she
cares. She doesn't seem to have changed, or found meaning or purpose, or
a backbone. I'm a little perplexed what the author was trying to do
here, because I just didn't get it. At all.