The overwhelming majority of our group loved State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. So we began by hearing from the small group of dissenters, who said that this novel did not meet their high expectations for Patchett and they did not care about the book’s characters. We were able to agree that Patchett is a phenomenal writer, and that at times we almost could feel the jungle’s heat, bugs, rain and bark as described. One question kept resurfacing: will there be a sequel?
The discussion quickly moved from point to point because there were so many available topics.
- Some believed that Marina, the main character, adjusted well to changing circumstances. Others saw this as a weakness and a failure to assert herself (she went to Brazil when she didn’t want to and was weak in her relationship with Mr. Fox, for example).
- Science is a major thread throughout the book, and Dr. Swenson’s views of medical intervention were understandable–she did not have enough medicine to bring to the tribe. She did the best she could in deciding not to intervene except when necessary.
- We caught the symbolism of Easter’s name, especially given that he “rises again” for his birth family. We are undecided about whether he belongs with his original family or his found family.
- We loved the beautiful cover art and had fun brainstorming alternate titles like Fungus Among Us, Love That Bark, and Snakes Alive!
- Bel Canto and Truth and Beauty are other Ann Patchett titles we recommend.
We had so much to discuss! This book is very highly recommended for book clubs. Please pick up our August book, The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje, and join the discussion.