Author: Chitra Divakruni
Summary: The scene: Late afternoon in a passport and visa office in an unnamed American city. Out of nowhere, an earthquake rips through the lull, trapping nine disparate people together, with little food and no way to escape the slowly flooding office. When the psychological and emotional stress become nearly to much for them to bear, the young graduate student among them suggests that each tell a personal tale, "one amazing thing" from their lives, which they have never told anyone before. And as their surprising stories of romance, marriage, family, political upheaval, and self-discovery unfold against the urgency of their life - or - death circumstances, the novel proves the transcendent power of stories and the meaningfulness of human expression itself.
My Rating: 7.75/10
What I liked/disliked about the book: A good read and a well written book, and an interesting premise to it, I was worried it wouldn’t tie together, but it did. And I was intrigued when everyone was telling their story of “one amazing thing”, but there were times were I felt the pace of the book dragged on.
I liked how each individual’s story, although may not have been amazing to the reader or an outside viewer’s point of view, but to that individual, the event was an amazing event or an event that heavily impacted their lives and had an effect on who that person was in the present time. The characters were very well rounded in this regard, and although it was a short book, the reader was able to glimpse at two different sides of the character and get to know them more than just a one shot view. I was very surprised on how the author was able to write this so well and still tie it into the main storyline. In fact my favourite part was reading about each characters story, both Malathi and Mr. Pritchett were my favourite stories. My least favourite was Uma’s - she was also my least favourite character.
The characters themselves during the present time didn’t impress me that much. I was expecting a little more development and emotion from them during the present situation then what I got. I think it’s due to the fact it switches from first person (Uma) narrative to third person. Because I didn’t like Uma (I felt that she thought the world revolved around her, everything, including decisions her parents were made, were because of her etc) I think it’s why I didn’t like the parts in first person, and probably part of the reason, I felt the present time storyline - waiting for rescue after the earthquake, dragged on. I really was expecting a little more from the book during the present, I didn’t feel any strong sense of danger and being trapped, trying to survive. It wasn’t very climatic in this sense - although I did enjoy the ending, I found the earthquake/survival storyline to fall a little flat of my expectations.
Overall I found it to be a good read, and felt the author pulled the two stories lines together nicely.
Would I recommend it to read: I would probably recommend it to read. It’s a good choice for a lazy weekend read. It’s short read, but it’s interesting to read about the individual characters stories.
What to read next: I’d recommend more books by the author, I'd like to read some of her other works.