Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The World in Half

I wasn't expecting much. I didn't know anything about the book or its author, all I knew is that I received it from an offer on Shelf Awareness and I needed to whittle down my TBR stack. I picked up The World in Half by Cristina Henriquez and found myself transported to Chicago and Panama, in turn, and entranced by the beauty that I found in this author's first novel.

Miraflores is a geology student at the University of Chicago - I was immediately drawn to the setting since I used to work at the hospital there. She was raised by a single mother who has been becoming ill, and while going through some of her mother's papers, Mira discovers letters from her Panamanian father. Letters that reveal a great love and a different story than the one she has heard all her life and that nearly brought me to tears. Hoping to find something in Panama for herself and for her mother, Mira plans a trip to Panama, without the knowledge of her mother. Mira is quickly befriended by the doorman at her hotel, Hernan, and his nephew Danilo, close in age to Mira. Mira explores Panama with Danilo, searching for her father, and finding herself in Panama. Mira returns home, changed on the inside, and moving forward with a new external life as well and all the struggles that come with it. The way she handles herself is beautiful, she has so much strength of character and the sense that she must do what must be done. There is suspense in this book, wondering whether or not her search will be successful, but at its heart this book is a story of characters, and a beautiful relationship that didn't turn out as I thought it would, but in actuality was more touching than I could have imagined.

Peppered with tidbits about geology and the building of the Panama canal, the setting varying from tropical and steamy, to blustery and cold, this is a quiet book in many ways but one that celebrates humanity and love. I just enjoyed the experience of reading it so much, it transported me, and I recommend it highly.

The World in Half will be published on April 2. Many thanks to Riverhead Books for this advance copy.


Melissa said...

I requested this one, but didn't get it. :( I am glad to hear it was good! I love this cover too.

Iliana said...

Another one for my list! Sounds like a great story.

Lisa said...

I love the contrast in settings. This one sounds like a good one and an author to watch.

Staci said...

Loved your review and it does sound like a good read!

Carrie K said...

It sounds like a good read, I'll keep an eye out for it.

Ti said...

This one sounds really good. I love the cover too.

I just noticed that I have not been getting your feed. I had it, but somehow it got confused with another blog of the same name. I just fixed it so I'm sorry for not posting regularly.

JoAnn said...

Isn't it great when you start a book with little expectation end up really liking it? I'll keep an eye out for this one.

J.L. Danger said...

The cover looks neat!

nutmeg said...

I love books with some sort of science as the back story. This sounds like a great book.

Anonymous said...

It sounds lovely.

bermudaonion said...

The cover grabbed my attention and your review has kept it. This one is going on my wish list.

Tara said...

Melissa, I'm sorry you didn't get it - I guess I got lucky this time! I love the cover.

Iliana, yes, it was!

Lisa, I loved that about it too. Definitely, I will be watching this author in the future - she's young so I'm hoping she has many more books in her!

Staci, thank you, and it really was.

Carrie K, it was just so absorbing.

Ti, it was - I love the cover. Ah, the blog with the same name....just so you know, it was mine first...can you tell I'm a little annoyed?? Anywho, thanks for mentioning it and for stopping by!

JoAnn, that was the best part about it, I think! It was really good.

J.Danger, the cover is great! The colors are so vibrant.

Nutmeg, you do, don't you! ;-) It was really very well done.

Softdrink, exactly.

Bermudaonion, I hope you like it, it was so good.

Les said...

This sounds like something I'd love. Sounds a bit like something Gail Tsukiyama might write. Might be your phrase, "this is a quiet book in many ways but one that celebrates humanity and love." The Samurai's Garden was very much like that. And I love this cover!!

BTW, I'm reading The Help and I think it's wonderful.

avisannschild said...

I've added this book to my wish list thanks to your review! (And posted about it in my Friday Finds post today.)

On a completely irrelevant note, my Word Verification word is "jawful"!

Tara said...

Les, I think it does sound like something you would like.

avisannschild, I'm glad this sounds good to you! It was very, very, good. The word verifications crack me up!