State of Wonder

State of Wonder is an astonishing novel.  As I read, I kept wondering how Ann Patchett (author of Bel Canto) came up with the novel and then how she pulled it off so well.  The story is gripping, the characters are compelling, the themes are thought-provoking, and long after you’re done reading you’ll still be thinking about all of the layers and questions the book poses.  In short, this book is well worth your time and will probably be one of my favorites for this year.

The book unfolds a multi-layered but beautifully composed story about medical research in the Amazon, parent-child and student-teacher relationships, the origins and acceptable uses and procurement of pharmaceuticals, and how all of this ties in to ethics and the broader questions of how and when ends justify means.  State of Wonder is fascinating at every single turn.

I think Patchett is an amazing writer, and State of Wonder does not disappoint.  Given the subject matter, she does a masterful job of explaining the intricacies and multiple viewpoints of what can too easily be seen only through the lenses of capitalism, medical efficacy, or environmentalism.  Moreover, the book uses those complex issues to explore an even more universal question about when or if wonderful ends ever justify questionable means.

State of Wonder is an excellent, compelling, and engaging novel and I highly recommend it.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

7 thoughts on “State of Wonder

  1. I wasn’t anticipating liking this book because of the unusual story line and I liked Bel Canto better, but it was surprising and engrossing all the same. Very thought-provoking!

  2. I was not particularly impressed by Bel Canto and so have dismissed trying any other Patchett, but if State of Wonder is a five-star book for you, perhaps I’ll give it a try.

    Sorry for so many time-hopping random comments today, but I loved the premise of the email and have enjoyed going back and reading some of these old reviews!

    1. State of Wonder is one of those stories that stays with you, although it’s odd. Maybe because it’s odd. I was just so astonished that she came up with it (although in Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert claims that she came up with the idea first and the universe snatched it and gave it to Ann), and managed to keep the whole thing together. I’ll be interested in your thoughts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

CommentLuv badge

A Spirited Mind HomeAboutReadingWritingParenting

Thank you for joining the conversation at A Spirited Mind! Please keep your comments kind and friendly, even if you're disagreeing with me or another commenter. Comments that use inappropriate language, or that are cruel, threatening, or violent will be deleted. I'm sure you understand!