Friday, July 25, 2008
Book Review: The White Mary by Kira Salak
The White Mary is one story told in two parts. The main part of the book covers Marika’s search for Lewis in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, while the events that drove her to that search are told in a series of flashbacks. These flashbacks, though insightful looks into Marika’s character, are the weakest points in the story. I found Marika’s interaction with her boyfriend Seb to be unrealistic. The dialogue between the two of them just felt stilted and forced. Marika is an interesting, multi-faceted character, but with each flashblack, I found her less likable. Her journey ultimately changes her for the better, but that change came too late for me.
There were elements of this book that I loved. Salak’s descriptions of the jungle are absolutely breathtaking. Tobo, Marika’s guide through the jungle, is a fascinating character. Clever, resourceful and wise, he saves Marika’s life on more than one occasion. Kira Salak, like Marika, is an accomplished war journalist, and her experience is evident in the descriptions of Marika’s time spent in various war zones.
The White Mary is gritty, intense and, at times, disturbing. There are graphic depictions of torture and rape, and one scene towards the end of the novel is so disturbingly vivid that it may turn even the strongest of stomachs.
I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. As I stated earlier, there were many things that I loved about this book, but in the end, the things I didn’t like stood out more. While I can’t give it an enthusiastic endorsement, I am glad that I took the time to read The White Mary.
Buy The White Mary:
Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon