Mini Book Review: State of Wonder

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett is accurately named. Having finished it, I find myself in a state of wonder at the way things all turned out. The phrase is also an apt metaphor for many of the characters’ states of mind throughout the book. I think I am left with more questions than answers at the end of this book. It is excellent, and I find myself liking it all the more for the lack of a ‘Guide to this Book’ that you find at the back of books so often nowadays.

I know the ‘Guides’ are there to make the book more desirable to book clubs (which the publishers of course wish to encourage — what seller doesn’t want to sell a dozen copies at a time?) but they (the ‘Guides’) often seem so simplistic — asking basic questions about the characters’ motivations and feelings. It reminds me too strongly of the essays I had to write in high school.

Somehow, when I find a book lacking a ‘Guide,’ particularly a book as incomprehensible as this one, the lack says, ‘I don’t need to tell someone how to read me, I can stand on my own, even if no one really understands what that means.’ It has a dignity all its own, beyond the explanatory questions.

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