Book Review of “One Amazing Thing” by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Posted on the 23 February 2019 by Views She Writes @ViewsSheWrites

“She had always been this way: interested-quite unnecessarily, some would say-in the secrets of strangers. When flying, she always chose a window seat so that when the plane took off or landed, she could look down on the tiny houses and imagine the lives of the people who inhabited them.”

Genre: Literary Fiction


Late afternoon sun sneaks through the windows of a passport and visa office in an unnamed American city. Most customers and even most office workers have come and gone, but nine people remain. A punky teenager with an unexpected gift. An upper-class Caucasian couple whose relationship is disintegrating. A young Muslim-American man struggling with the fallout of 9/11. A graduate student haunted by a question about love. An African-American ex-soldier searching for redemption. A Chinese grandmother with a secret past. And two visa office workers on the verge of an adulterous affair.

When an earthquake rips through the afternoon lull, trapping these nine characters together, their focus first jolts to their collective struggle to survive. There’s little food. The office begins to flood. Then, at a moment when the psychological and emotional stress seems nearly too much for them to bear, the young graduate student suggests that each tell a personal tale, “one amazing thing” from their lives, which they have never told anyone before. And as their surprising stories of romance, marriage, family, political upheaval, and self-discovery unfold against the urgency of their life-or-death circumstances, the novel proves the transcendent power of stories and the meaningfulness of human expression itself.


Star Rating: 3 stars

Chitra Divakaruni is one amazing author. I was introduced to and eventually loved her writing in “Palace of Illusion” and has since, followed her works since. I am looking forward to “Forest of Enchantment”. So it was with utter delight that I borrowed the book “One Amazing Thing” from my library. Normally, I would check reviews on Goodreads before starting on any new book. But this one was an exception so I did not bother about any reviews and dived right into it.

The start enticed me and the language was brilliant. It was simple, smooth and flowed like a river through the book. The slow development of characters was interesting, although randomly changing point of view got a bit confusing in the flow. Some chapters started in first person with no hint on who was talking. It was while reading through the story that you could figure out who it was.

However, all things said, the end was utterly disappointing. With all the flow of the characters and the story line, the end was abrupt without any closure. It was highly dissatisfying. After that, when I went back to Goodreads to read other reviews, I found that they all had the same thing to say. The end did not meet expectation. It could have been much better. Even a dark ending could have been better than the current abrupt halt in the story.

I wouldn’t give it any stars for the ending, but since the flow till there was good, I think a 3 star rating is sufficient for this one. I still have high hopes for Forest of Enchantment.

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