I just completed Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni‘s One Amazing thing. It was a read you can connect with. A book I would put on a read-again shelf.
The story is based on Nine people trapped in Visa Consulate office in an American city due to earthquake. All nine people are of different nationalities, has different way of thinking and different way of living life. All of them are having problems in their life. Problems we have heard of and we can connect to. Due to nothing to do other than stare each others faces, they decide to share their one amazing thing of life.
Two visa officers on verge of an affair. Malathi is conservative and by her own confession, selfish. She feels guilty of having an affair. On the other hand Mangalam is some sort of playboy. Cameron, an ex-soldier is haunted by guilt. Uma, A student feeling guilty for not informing her boyfriend about her plans of going to India. Tariq, a Muslim who is angry with the changes in America after 9/11. Jiang, an Indo-Chinese going India again after all her life with her granddaughter Lily and grandson. A couple having troubled marriage going to Rajasthan. All of them trapped in basement offices with debris falling now and them.
The narration quickly changes from third person to first person. While it might have gone wrong but Divakaruni did well. Characters were well described. Situations in the stories were illustrated well leaving no holes. The stories of characters are very common and predictable. We connect to them very easily. Though common stories Divakaruni managed to keep me gripped. She described the mental state of people very closely. The stories are more on the problems faced by characters than the one amazing thing in their life. Its the only thing that itched me. But some stories makes you make a note in mind not to do that mistake in your life.
Divakaruni has shown the natural tension and distrust between people at first by when people were requested to share whatever eatables they had with others, people had put only half of the things they had at first, People fighting and arguing whether to allow Cameron to handle the whole situation.
Its hard to find loopholes in this book. Its a nice, clean work.