A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

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A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

Format:  Hardcover,

384 pages

Publisher: Random House Inc

Publish Date: May 2013

ISBN-13: 9780770436407

ISBN-10: 0770436404

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Book Information

The following content was provided by the publisher.
A National Book Awards Longlist Selection"
"A "New York Times" and "Washington Post" bestseller
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.
Two doctors risk everything to save the life of a hunted child in this majestic debut about love, loss, and the unexpected ties that bind us together. "On the morning after the Feds burned down her house and took her father, Havaa woke from dreams of sea anemones." Havaa, eight years old, hides in the woods and watches the blaze until her neighbor, Akhmed, discovers her sitting in the snow. Akhmed knows getting involved means risking his life, and there is no safe place to hide a child in a village where informers will do anything for a loaf of bread, but for reasons of his own, he sneaks her through the forest to the one place he thinks she might be safe: an abandoned hospital where the sole remaining doctor, Sonja Rabina, treats the wounded. Though Sonja protests that her hospital is not an orphanage, Akhmed convinces her to keep Havaa for a trial, and 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.

Specifications

Author:
Publisher: Random House Inc
Publish Date: May 2013
ISBN-13: 9780770436407
ISBN-10: 0770436404
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 384
Shipping Weight (in pounds): 1.6
Product in Inches (L x W x H): 6.8 x 1.2 x 9.5

Reviews

Review by Library Journal (2013-04-01)

Marra's debut novel places readers in Chechnya during its decade long conflict with Russia and offers up an authentic, heartbreaking tale of intertwining relationships during wartime. The narrative centers on three people: eight-year-old Havaa, whose father has been "disappeared" by Russian forces; her neighbor Akhmed, a failed doctor who tries to hide her in the only operational hospital he knows; and Sonja, the area's last remaining surgeon, who is trying desperately to find her missing sister.

As he shifts in time through the years of the two Chechen wars, Marra confidently weaves those plots together, and several more besides, giving each character a rich backstory that intersects, often years down the line, with the others. Though sometimes difficult to digest-episodes of casual violence and savage brutality punctuate the otherwise graceful prose-the novel's tone remains optimistic, and its characters retain vast depths of humanity (and even humor) in spite of their bleak circumstances.

Verdict: Marra's moving novel will appeal to admirers of Tea Obreht's similarly war-torn novel The Tiger's Wife, but his story relies less on magical realism and more on the seemingly random threads binding us together. Highly recommended for all readers of literary fiction.

-Michael Pucci, South Orange P.L., NJ

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book description

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.

Two doctors risk everything to save the life of a hunted child in this majestic debut about love, loss, and the unexpected ties that bind us together. "On the morning after the Feds burned down her house and took her father, Havaa woke from dreams of sea anemones". Havaa, eight years old, hides in the woods and watches the blaze until her neighbor, Akhmed, discovers her sitting in the snow. Akhmed knows getting involved means risking his life, and there is no safe place to hide a child in a village where informers will do anything for a loaf of bread, but for reasons of his own, he sneaks her through the forest to the one place he thinks she might be safe: an abandoned hospital where the sole remaining doctor, Sonja Rabina, treats the wounded. Though Sonja protests that her hospital is not an orphanage, Akhmed convinces her to keep Havaa for a trial, and 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.

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