Saturday, June 21, 2008

Book Review: The White Mary by Kira Salak

Marika is a journalist who immigrated to the states from Czechoslovakia, and has become very famous for visiting war zones fearlessly and writing about her experiences. Her father is dead, her mother is mentally ill, and she doesn't do well in relationships, but her work keeps her complete.

She admires Robert Lewis, another war correspondent and is disappointed to hear that he has committed suicide. In tribute to him, she decides to write his biography. It's not easy, because he was also a self-contained person and there isn't much information available. His son is dead, his sister doesn't want to talk to her. But when she visits and tells her why she wants to write about him and how much she admired him, the sister does allow her access to some letters. In the pile, she finds a letter from a missionary who says he say Robert Lewis in the remote jungle of Papua New Guinea. Unfortunately, the missionary is now deceased. The sister doesn't believe the letter.

Then her relationship with her boyfriend falls apart and she decides to go Papua New Guinea and search for Robert Lewis.

The story of her travel and the conditions there illuminate the qualities and dangers of the jungle. She's either going to find Robert Lewis or die, and she really doesn't care much which it is.

But this journey isn't just for Robert Lewis. As time goes on, she travels with a medicine man, who tries to teach some facts about what life means.

She doesn't listen well, but, before the end of her journey, she learns that she needs to love herself first before she can love someone else. And that while she may not believe in God, you have to accept the things that happen and move on.

Her war experiences and jungle scenes are harrowing. She's the type of character it's hard to feel sorry for due to her attitude and actions, but when she gets on the right track, there's hope for her future.

This isn't a book you'll read lightly. And you may have to read it more than once to get all the nuances and really understand the overall concept. But you'll most likely never forget it...

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