Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The White Mary by Kira Salak (5/5stars)

I got this book as an advance reader's edition through the amazon Vine program. Not normally the type of book I read, but it sounded interesting.

Kira Salak herself has a very interesting background. If you go to this book on amazon, she has posted some links to photos she took both in the Congo and Papua New Guinea.

The book itself deals with Marika Vecera; a journalist who covers stories in war torn countries. At a talk she meets a psychologist named Seb; who introduces her to happiness and a different world where Marika isn't constantly under threat of death. After a particularly dangerous assignment in the Congo, Marika hears of the death of Robert Lewis, a man whose journalism she has long admired. When rumors surface of him having been seen in Papau New Guina she decides to check it out. Will her trip to Papau New Guinea destroy Marika's relationship with Seb? Will she find Robert Lewis? Will she live through her trip through the dense jungle? These are all questions the book answers.

The book was very well written and very gripping. It bounces from the past that lead to her trip to Papau New Guinea (PNG) to the present where she is fighting her way through the jungle. I really found the subject intriguing and had a lot of trouble putting this book down. The characters were interesting and the setting very unique. You could really tell that Salak had experienced these places and been here before.

This book was not for the faint of heart. The descriptions of war scenes are vivid as is the the gruesome trip through the jungle. The part of this book I found most interesting were the justifications that war journalists had for why they do this work. It was neat to see into the mind of a war journalist and try to understand what those people get out of doing such a crazily dangerous job.

Of course Marika's journey of learning how to live through happiness versus sadness in also interesting. As is some of her contemplation on why she has such a hard time living a normal day to day live. At one point she explains that listening to Seb in the kitchen seems so unimportant and trivial considering that a day ago she was struggling to survive shootings, bombings and kidnapping in the Congo. It made me grateful for the life I live.

Salak is a great writer and this was an awesome, eye-opening book.

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