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State of Wonder by Ann Patchett Book Review

Reasons for Reading This Book:

When I first moved to start my new job at the end of 2022 I was without WiFi for a week. This was not going to be a problem for me because one of the first things I did when I got settled was go to the library and get a library card. I knew one book I was going to check out but also needed a second because the first was short. My mom suggested I read State of Wonder by Ann Patchett , one of her favorite books. It was the perfect book to read because it was long and I had lots of time to read. I also knew that with starting my new job I was going to have less time to read during the day and implemented reading for one hour each night before I watch TV. When my mom grabbed this book at the library she said “It was one of her favorite books and had something to do with medical malpractice but that the doctors were in the Amazon jungle”. That is really all she gave me. Without knowing much more than that I dove into the book.


Content of This Book:

Mariana Singh is a pharmacologist who initially studied under Dr. Annick Swenson before she became a pharmacologist. On assignment from Vogel, the pharmaceutical company she works for, Mariana goes to Brazil in search of the answers to Dr. Swenson’s miraculous drug research on preventing or undoing menopause so that women can be fertile well past the average age. One day at work Mr. Fox, the CEO of Vogel and her secret lover, gives her a letter revealing that her colleague Dr. Anders Eckman has died while in Brazil at Dr. Swenson’s drug research site. For herself and his widow, Mariana agrees to journey to Brazil to find the answers for Vogel on the progress of the research and what happened to Anders. Along the way she meets a couple who are the gatekeepers to Dr. Swenson and a young deaf native boy who has become a companion of everyone at the research site.


What I Liked About This Book:

I liked that this book had a little bit of everything. There was romance, mystery, drama, science, adventure and secrets. This book had something for everyone. The book includes flashbacks of stories from prior to Dr. Eckman’s death and present day action following his death. As someone who studied science in college I loved reading about the scientific theories that were being tested in Brazil.  Dr. Mariana Singh was the perfect narrator for this story. She was detailed in her descriptions, open and vulnerable with the reader, and determined in her journey to find answers. There were so many side plots that I found interesting and entertaining that it is hard to pick which was my favorite. I think what I enjoyed the most was the flashbacks to Mariana’s days when she was in residency and learning about the theories, research and medical experiments taking place in the Amazon. The medical scenes were graphically detailed but in a theory and necessary way. The character development of Mariana was top tier. By the end of the story she was a fully formed character to the point where I could predict how she would react in certain situations. This is something I expect and value highly in the books I read. Mariana was able to connect and form relationships with every character and that was a treat to read about. The reader read and felt every emotion of Mariana’s. The physical descriptions of the various locations that this book took us to were phemomenal. I felt like I was in the streets of Brazil with Mariana and on the boat with her on her way into the jungle. The amount of background provided on the Lakashi tribe was so realistic and believable that it made it seem like they were a real tribe. When it comes to the different types of characters in this story there are the ones who are in your face and make a big impact, but then there are also the more subdued characters who also make the same impact. I haven’t read a book in a while where the characters range in age so that was a refreshing change. The last thing I will say is that I became attached to Mariana’s character and was so invested in her story and adventures. I could go on and on about what I liked about this book, but I think I have said enough already.



What I Disliked About This Book:

I found it a little confusing at first when all of the doctors and researchers were first introduced when Mariana first got to the research site. Once she began having longer more detailed interactions with them seperatley I was able to differentiate them from one another and then connect them when they reappeared in another part of the story. One small complaint is that I wanted her to get to Brazil sooner in the book so I could start reading about her jungle adventures and uncover all the secrets that the jungle was hiding. 


Would I Recommend This Book?

100% yes! I would recommend this book to all readers. There is something in it for everyone. It’s engaging from start to finish and littered with stories of miraculous self-discovery and jungle adventures. If you have not already read this book get yourself a copy immediately!

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