Despite my friend Alison’s positive recommendation of ages ago, I approached Cutting for Stone somewhat warily because I was unfamiliar with the author, not particularly interested in the topic (a sort of medical-themed coming of age tale, set in Ethiopia) and found the hardback sizeable enough to likely kill me if I fell asleep and dropped it on myself while reading in bed. However, these reservations quickly faded as I became interested in the dramatic scenarios and characters involved in them. I enjoyed the sense of trust I could place in Verghese’s real-life medical expertise, which was showcased often in his portrayal of the experiences of Marion Stone, who uncovers the twisted histories of his nurse/nun mother and brilliant but antisocial surgeon-father, while growing into his medical heritage and discovering what it means to live, love and work.
This book has its profound moments and emotional scenes – a well-crafted story that is communicated with a straightforward writing style that makes its 530+ pages fly by. Some people would undoubtedly find it to deserve a 5/5 rating, but my enjoyment of it (and indeed, my ability to recommend it) was marred by the sordidness of some of the more sexual scenes, the inevitable inclusion of which is one of the reasons I generally don’t tend to enjoy coming of age stories. Call me oversensitive or prudish, but if I wouldn’t want to know it about my best friend, I probably don’t want to know it about a fictional character either. Still, an impressive and meaningful read.