State of Wonder by Ann Patchett is about a pharmacologist, Dr. Marina Singh, who is sent to the Amazon upon the death of her partner to check on the progress of a drug (for continued fertility in aging women) being developed by her former teacher. Upon acceptance into the arms of the studied tribe, Marina finds that nothing is how she expected it to be, and everything she discovers will change her view of her teacher, herself, and the world.
First Impression: Patchett's novel starts out with a stony tone. I did not initially feel connected to the characters, but after a few pages, I felt that the tone matched the subject well. This is not an uplifting book, at least so far. The main character is dealing with the death of a friend and colleague as well as a lot of problems she never fully addressed in the past. The characters and plot of this book are like lettuce leaves, revealing themselves more and more as each layer is removed. I find it very intriguing and am unable to make concrete predictions on the outcome of the novel.
Conclusion: I'll admit, when I first started this book, I did not necessarily expect to like it. With as many tears as it cost me, you might conclude that I didn't like it in the end, but I did. Patchett has a beautiful way of writing that describes things you would never expect and answers questions you would never think to ask. The places to which she takes you are at once horrible and beautiful; it seems to change at each moment. Patchett is not afraid to write about the uncomfortable and, sometimes, really terrible parts that are integral to the story. In fact, sometimes she jumps in very suddenly, and I am so shocked that I am unsure how to react afterward. All-in-all, this book is fantastic, but don't read it if you are wanting a happy ending. Not that it is unhappy per se, but there are two sides to everything in this novel, and sometimes it is hard to tell on which side you are standing.