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One Amazing Thing

A book by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

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Beautiful storytelling

  • Feb 23, 2010
  • by
Rating:
+3
Nine strangers are all that remain in the passport and visa office when an earthquake rips through their unnamed American city. Lilly - a punky teenager with an unexpected gift. Mr. and Mrs. Pritchett - an upper-class Caucasian couple whose relationship is disintegrating. Tariq - a young Muslim-American man struggling with the fallout of 9/11. Uma - a graduate student haunted by a question about love. Cameron - an African-American ex-soldier searching for redemption. Jiang - a Chinese grandmother with a secret past. And Mr. Mangolam and Malathi - two visa office workers on the verge of an adulterous affair.

With no power, barely any food, the building's eminent collapse, no cell phone reception, water that keeps flooding in and the door being stuck shut, they are trapped. Emotions are high and fear and restlessness begins to set in while they wait in the hopes of being rescued. To distract them from their fears, hunger and discomforts, Uma suggests that they all tell a story, a story of "One Amazing Thing" that has happened to them. A story that they have never told anyone before. And thus begins our journey with these nine diverse individuals as they wait together for whatever is to come next.

Although this book is rather short - it definitely carries big heart. Ms. Divakaruni has a way with words. She brings these nine people together in a very tense situation and brings each character into focus, fleshing them out, giving them real life struggles and lessons. I will confess to being a little confused (at first) as to who was who - and I did have to do some flipping back and forth to make sure I had the correct person. But once I got passed that, these characters shone brightly. You will find it hard to not to relate to at lease one of these people, if not more than one. The pacing is rather fast. You jump from one story to the next with only a short chapter in between giving you an update as to what is happening in the current post-earthquake situation.

As you read these stories, you can't help but wonder what story you would tell - what is you're one amazing thing?

This is a modern adaptation of The Canterbury Tales that is well-crafted and quite frankly, a fascinating read.

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More One Amazing Thing reviews
review by . June 17, 2010
In an unnamed American city, seven customers and two officials remained in the visa office of an Indian consulate, during the late afternoon, each lost in his or her own thoughts, when an earthquake struck. Amidst the chaos that follows, only one person, Cameron, an African-American ex-soldier retains his senses. He tries to calm the people down, and keep them away from the collapsed section of the office. Soon after, everyone's focus turns to survival. They try to scrape together as much food …
review by . July 02, 2010
Chitra being a favorite author of mine I couldn't wait to read it. I was amazed that she has always made each and every book very interested to read. I felt sorry at time's for some of charachters but when they each told their events it made me too realize that people are shaped and become like that due to an event that occurs in their life. I person always has their own point to view of everything and always has the what if in the back of their minds. I liked how we finally got to see how …
review by . April 14, 2010
I've read the previous works of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I expected a powerful and thought provoking story. I was a bit disappointed.    For me, the story started off very slow. It was not until each individual started sharing their stories that I was WOW'd. However the ending of this book leaves me unsatisfyed, disappointed and a bit sad.     The writing was as I expect of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. The story though is missing something at the beginning …
review by . February 02, 2010
Nine people are stuck together. They have survived an earthquake and are now working together to survive. There is a teenager, a couple, a young man who suffered on 9/11, an ex-soldier, a grandmother and two people who are about to cheat on their spouses. To pass the time and release some tension, they decide to tell a true story about themselves. After learning about life from another point of view they begin to appreciate the life they had and gain new perspective on the life they want to lead.   & …
review by . January 17, 2010
This tale was at least 4 stars the entire way through. With a multitude of interesting characters with their own riveting and unique stories, this tale of a group of strangers trapped together in the aftermath of an earthquake was certainly interesting enough to keep the reader interested throughout. And although I found the story a pageturner, and the storyline itself wonderfully unique, the fact remains that the ridiculously abrupt ending managed to undo the entire literary experience. It was …
review by . January 10, 2010
ONE AMAZING THING is the story of a group of strangers who are caught in an Indian Visa office in SF when an earthquake traps them in a room. The group is diverse:    the Pritchetts, a middle-aged couple whose marriage is in trouble    a Chinese grandmother and her daughter (but the Chinese grandmother hails from Kolkutta Chinatown, which I didn't even know existed)    Tariq, a young adult Indian Muslim teen    Cameron, …
review by . December 31, 2009
I really enjoyed many aspects of this book. The story line is great. A group of unrelated people are in the basement waiting to get a visa to travel to India. They start their day with only one similarity - needing a visa - but they end their journey realizing that they are much more similar than they originally understood.    I like the build-up, the "event" and the subsequent slow unraveling as the characters found themselves straining to survive and work as a united team. …
review by . December 31, 2009
This well-written and well-imagined book offers readers a diverse collection of stories that help explain exactly how nine different individuals found themselves in the visa office of the Indian Consulate during an earthquake. The characters were certainly a group of unique individuals, but each could have been further fleshed-out to create a more satisfying experience for the reader. I would have appreciate more interaction and evidence of charcter growth in the present-day circumstances, rather …
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Nely Sanchez ()
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I review books as a hobby for my personal blog - All About {n} which can be found at www.bookwormygirl.com. There you can find all sorts of book reviews, book giveaways and just random bookish events, … more
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In a soggy treatment of catastrophe and enlightenment, Divakaruni (The Mistress of Spices) traps a group of nine diverse people in the basement of an Indian consulate in an unidentified American city after an earthquake. Two are émigrés who work for the consulate; the others are in the building to apply for visas. With very little food, rising flood water, dwindling oxygen, and no electricity or phone service, the victims fend off panic by taking turns at sharing the central stories of their lives. Oddly, the group spends little time brainstorming ways to escape, even when they run out of food and water, and sections of ceiling collapse around them. They wait in fatalistic resignation and tell their tales. Some are fable-like, with captivating scene-setting and rush-to-moral conclusions, but the most powerful are intimate, such as the revelations an accountant shares about his impoverished childhood with an exhausted mother, her boyfriend, and a beloved kitten. Despite moments of brilliance, this uneven novel, while vigorously plumbing themes of class struggle, disillusionment, and guilt, disappoints with careless and unearned epiphanies.(Feb.)
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Details

ISBN-10: 1401340997
ISBN-13: 978-1401340995
Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Publisher: Voice

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