August 27, 2008

Book's I've Read: The White Mary by Kira Salak

The White Mary

Kira Salak's new novel, The White Mary is a work of fiction, but her descriptions of Papua New Guinea and the people who live there come from her own incredible experiences traveling in that county.

I first opened the book not expecting it to hold my attention, but after reading a few pages, I was hooked on a powerful and gripping story that is also easy to read.

The main character, Marika Vecerra, is a young war reporter who survives being captured by rebel soldiers in the Congo. Arriving back in the states, she finds out that her hero, journalist Robert Lewis, has committed suicide. In the process of writing his biography, Marika discovers Lewis might still be alive and she travels to Papua New Guinea to find out if it's true.

The interactions between Marika and her guide, Tobo, are some of my favorite parts of the story. Tobo's thoughts and perplexed reactions to Marika show differences between their cultures in an entertaining way. I also like how Marika's conversations with other characters introduce different philosophies of life, especially the discussions she has with her boyfriend, Seb.

Throughout the book, vivid descriptions include just enough detail to show the reader what's happening without being tiresome. I was delighted by the author's choice of words and the short, concise, descriptive sentences that flowed across each page.

Ms. Salak is a first class storyteller, and I definitely recommend adding this book to your reading list. I'm glad I did, and I'm looking forward to also reading her travel memoirs, Four Corners: A Journey into the Heart of Papua New Guinea and Cruelest Journey: Six Hundred Miles To Timbuktu.

*You can read an interview with Kira Salak on National Geographic Adventure.