For the 30th week in the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, I read One Amazing Thing by Chitra Divakaruni.
The premise of the book is that nine people, who are in the passport office in the basement of the Indian Consulate in San Francisco, are yoked together by fate when an earthquakes hits. After stabilizing everyone and the situation as much as possible, one of the people who is trapped suggests that they share stories about themselves. The storytelling is done not only to pass the time, but to distract themselves from the desperateness of their situation.
The purpose of the storytelling was to share "one amazing thing" from one's life. For that reason, I was anticipating a moving and inspiration novel. On the contrary, the stories were not that unique, uplifting, or amazing. In fact, most the stories are just experiences that happened to the characters...they weren't anything that were so moving that I felt changed by reading this book.
Perhaps the author had a reason for choosing ordinary stories for each of the "amazing" things. Maybe the point was that the stories didn't have to be amazing to others. Rather, they were amazing...important...significant in some way to the teller of the story.
And, essentially, that's what any story is in concept. It has meaning for the storyteller, but not necessarily for the listener. The listener may be moved - or not - by the story s/he hears, but it is often times more important for the person telling the story to be able to share it with others.
In the case of One Amazing Thing, as the small group of people trapped in the building comes to realize they may never be rescued, they become almost desperate to tell their stories, to reveal themselves. With some stories, it almost felt like listening to a confessional.
Each of the the stories shared in the book show us that the people were vulnerable and have suffered loss and regret; and they have loved and have hurt. In sharing themselves they could better accept themselves and each other. An angry young man perhaps said it best:
"...having put my story up against others I can see this much: everyone suffers in different ways. Now I don,t feel so alone."
One thing I did enjoy about One Amazing Thing was the rich vocabulary that the author used. There were many words used that are not commonly part of everyday conversation.
Overall, I was intrigued by and attracted to One Amazing Thing by the blurb on the back cover and inner cover. I wanted to enjoy it, but I wasn't that impressed. There have been many other books that I have read this year that have been much more enjoyable and inspiring to read.