Friday, June 24, 2011

STATE OF WONDER by Ann Patchett

State of WonderThis week, I realized how much I have missed good adult novels.  Ann Patchett is one of my favorite authors of all time. I read BEL CANTO years ago, when it first came out.  I fell in love with it and then went on to read all of Patchett's book. I've loved all of them but none has really compared to Bel Canto for me. Until I read her newest, STATE OF WONDER.  Many reviewers are saying the same thing.  I finished this book Thursday and was so sad to close the last page and leave the characters and the story behind.

I can't quite put my finger on why I loved this book so much but I am pretty sure it is for all of the same reasons that I loved Bel Canto.  I am a character reader and I must love the characters to love a book. I remember reading Bel Canto and thinking so hard about the characters as I got to know them over the course of the book. Patchett is amazing at helping us get to know characters over time and I find myself slowly falling in love with the characters and understanding them so well by the end of her books.

STATE OF WONDER takes place in the Amazon Rainforest. It is such a different setting for me and the setting is so critical to the book. The story is about a woman, Marina, who journeys to the Amazon to find her mentor and past teacher, Dr. Swenson, who is conducting research there.  Marina's job is to find out what happened to her friend and colleague--her company is sending her to discover the truth about his recent death and to get an update on the research that Dr. Swenson is doing.  The plot was interesting--Patchett is a master at pulling in issues and throwing in circumstances that make readers rethink their views on certain things.

The plot matters in this book, but it is the characters and how they grow that made me love the book.  I read in a review that Patchett is brilliant at putting characters in unique situations to see how they do. I loved that about Bel Canto--the way she brought a variety of people to one location and we learned about them through their interactions.  Patchett does the same thing with State of Wonder--she pulls a group of people out of their normal circumstances and we come to learn so much about who they are, what they care about, how they see themselves in the world.

I know I am not saying much about this book. I loved it so much that I know I can't do it justice.  What I do know is that I have to commit a bit more time reading adult fiction. I love children's lit and YA lit but I realized with STATE OF WONDER, just how much I missed adult fiction.  If you are only making time for one adult fiction book this summer, I would say this is the one to read.

Ann Patchett talks about State of Wonder here.


  1. I might just have to get this on my ipad. I'm glad you described what's unitque about Ann Patchett's writing. Now, I'm dying to read both Bel Canto and State of Wonder. I also have been pulled by my love for YA lit. Cutting for Stone was last year's title that brought me back to adult fiction.

  2. Your thoughts about State of Wonder really resonated with me. I loved Bel Canto and it is one of my favorite books. And I also read a lot of kiddie and YA lit. This was a wonderful reminder that great adult literature offers something unique and necessary for me too.

  3. State of Wonder and The Help are the next adult books on my TBR pile. I find myself constantly fighting with the desire to read adult fiction...there are so many amazing books to be read, but I am blown away by the beauty and wonder of books that are being written for young adults these days. More hours in the day????


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