And yet still I feel compelled to spread the word so that maybe one of you will experience the pleasure and the pain that is this quiet tour de force. As one dear friend put it, this books lives with you after you finish it. I could think of no better way to describe it.
Cutting for Stone is epic on a small scale. How's that for a contradiction? This tome, and tome it is at well over 500 pages, spans more than 50 years and 2 generations, crossing continents and borders, breaking language barriers, bridging religious and cultural divides without ever losing its beautiful thread or clear voice.
The book begins in medias res narrated by older twin, Marion Stone. He quickly establishes one of the many conflicts that define this book. Marion's mother was a nun and father was a surgeon at the hospital where she worked. His mother is now dead and his father is gone. He takes the reader on a journey back in time to discover what happened leading up to his unlikely birth, establishing along the way the character of his deeply religious mother and somewhat distant but incredibly driven father. The story of his and his brother Shiva's birth is truly dramatic and kept me riveted for chapter after chapter while every medical detail was described not with the clinical detachment of a medical textbook but the poetic beauty of the literary heart.
After the twins's birth and their biological father's hasty departure, the story arc shifts and redirects focus on the twins and their relationships with one another, their adopted parents, and their childhood friend Genet. From here, the real journey begins and conflicts established -- broken relationships, political upheaval, visceral betrayal, guarded secrets, and serious illness, culminating in the ultimate sacrifice.
Although Cutting for Stone is full of raw emotion and unfathomable choices, it is a book full of hope because it is preeminently a love story. Love in all forms, adoptive, biological, marital, fraternal, collegial, theological and romantic. It is a story about love across the ages, love that endures even when its source has been extinguished, love that is not limited by geography or time or relationship, love that heals and restores that which is divided and broken and lost. At its heart Cutting for Stone is a story of redemptive love.
It reminds me of the end of one of my favorite children's books, which all three of mine love to this day, called No Matter What. The little fox in the story, Small, asks his dad, "'But what about when we're dead and gone, would you love me then, does love go on?' Large held Small snug as they looked out at the night, at the moon in the dark and the stars shining bright. 'Small, look at the stars - how they shine and glow, but some of those stars died a long time ago. Still they shine in the evening skies. Love, like starlight, never dies.'"
Love, like starlight, never dies.