Juliet's Reviews > Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World

Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
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's review
Sep 15, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: faves

This was such an engrossing book. I think my response to Paul Farmer was a bit like author Tracy Kidder's - fascinated admiration mixed with a feeling of personal inadequacy leading to a blend of irritated fan worship. How could I ever be like this guy? Isn't he amazing? And liberation theology - wow, what a concept but how does preferential option for the poor work in real life? It seems so "all or nothing." Give up my bread -so to speak- like Farmer, so the poor can eat?

Which ultimately is not the point. Farmer knows he's different, he knows that his choices are unusual, but we each have a role to play and he's following his. When a wealthy contributor from Boston (Tom White, as much a hero as Paul Farmer ever is) sighs that he would like to give up his life and help the poor in Zanmi Lasante (Farmer's health community in Haiti), Farmer tells him that to do so would be a sin. White's unparalleled and seemingly endless funding is his way to be effective.

Personalizing the principles Farmer espouses instead of forming a scripted list of actions to follow is where the real power of his message lies. By the end of the book, my own irritation/fascination at his sometimes "holier-than-thou" behavior/odds-defying successes had been replaced with a renewed and more quiet understanding of my own principles for living a full and devoted life to a higher calling.
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