With Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese immediately places himself as a budding new novelist to watch. While he respectfully acknowledges his friend and mentor John Irving as his greatest influence, I would argue that Cutting for Stone could stand with the best of Irving's classic works, if not rise above them.
Cutting for Stone begins with Sister Mary Joseph Praise and how her course was changed to arrive at Missing Hospital in Ethiopia. The compass that led her there is a talented young doctor named Thomas Stone whom she nursed back to health aboard a ship on her way to Africa. They become part of a blessed medical team at Missing only to discover that Sister Mary Joseph Praise is shockingly pregnant, about to deliver twins, and the complications of delivery could kill her.
The story of Thomas Stone and Sister Mary Joseph Praise and the shocking outcome of the birth is only the first third of this breathtaking story. As the two twin boys, Marion and Shiva, enter the world, they will magically compose a new family at this hospital nestled in rebellion torn Ethiopia, a unique mix of people brought together by love and loss. Cutting for Stone is a story that exposes what's missing in all its characters lives and strives to heal with reconciliation and redemption.
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