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The White Mary
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message 1: by Diane, Armchair Tour Guide (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane | 12845 comments Start discussion for The White Mary: A Novel by Kira Salak here.

Connie G (connie_g) | 822 comments This book kept my interest all the way through as Marika Vecera, a gutsy journalist, experiences danger, adventure, and psychological demons. She was guided through the jungle of Papau New Guinea by Tobo, a wise witch doctor, in search for another journalist who disappeared and only left a suicide note. Although the trek was full of danger, she was also treated with kindness at several tribal villages where the people shared their food with her.

The author has traveled through the jungle of Papua New Guinea herself, and has published another book about her experiences. She paints a picture of the jungle that is both beautiful and frightening.

It was also very thought-provoking to read about the experiences of Marika and her journalist friends in dangerous war zones in other countries. They showed that the people in those countries live with the fear of rape, torture, and genocide every day.

message 3: by Diane, Armchair Tour Guide (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane | 12845 comments I enjoyed this book. Many of Marika's adventures were based upon the author's own experiences as the first woman to cross Papua New Guinea solo and her experiences as a war reporter in the Congo.

I couldn't help noticing the similarity between this book and another book I have read recently, State of Wonder. Both books had female protagonists searching through the jungle for a man who was presumed dead. Of the two books, I liked this one better.

One of the character's in the book made an interesting observation about how American's are often so out of touch with what is going on in the rest of the world. We stress about trivial things when the reality of some other parts of the world includes the daily threat of death or torture.

Debra Hewitt | 36 comments I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did and had a hard time getting into it. Some of the early flash-back chapters dealing with the romance seemed a bit off, like the author was trying too hard. But I'm glad I stuck with it because it was a rewarding, enlightening read. I would never, ever, choose the kinds of adventures and dangers the main character, Marika, puts herself through and didn't even enjoy them vicariously since so many involved suffering and cruelty, but many of the characters' observations resonated with me, even those of the Papua New Guinea sorcerer which was unexpected.

The dark spirits love it when a person calls on their services. They are the ones responsible for all the evil in the universe, and they now speak to Tobo in his thoughts, demanding that he seek revenge. But he knows that if he curses another, he curses himself at the same time; it is the law of things, and there are no exceptions. p. 114

message 5: by Nebula (new) - added it

Nebula (nebula_x) | 1 comments I think the subject was interesting - sometimes gripping - and it was a different reason for an adventure. But the writing itself could have been better.

message 6: by Dee (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dee (austhokie) | 437 comments i'm hoping to start this one this weekend - after I finish up the other ATW book I am reading

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

I started reading The White Mary this weekend and I like it pretty much so far. One of things that's good about it is that the author has traveled widely. She previously wrote a book about her journeys in Papua New Guinea, so she knows what she's writing about. I'm only on Chapter 6 so I will wait to post more comments until I get farther into the story.

Claire | 143 comments I was totally intrigued by this book. As often happens, I am not sure I like the ending--not sure the change in Marika was adequately motivated.

The reversal of gender stereotypical behavior was interesting: Seb being the one to want commitment, to discuss the relationship, Marika the one to resist commitment.

"Once you start a must give up all fear" Tobo
"They've grown up in a world where everything horrible has been turned into entertainment, made into some goddamn movie." Lewis

The novel made me want to read the nonfiction account of the author's time in PNG.

Kathleen (kathleenhc) | 3 comments Debi wrote: "I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did and had a hard time getting into it. Some of the early flash-back chapters dealing with the romance seemed a bit off, like the author was trying t..."
I agree with the romance part of this book seeming like the author was trying a bit hard. The more I read the romance sections the more I tended to almost skim them to get back to the real purpose of the book and those sections completely kept my attention.
I thought the ending was a bit abrupt as if the author did not know how to end the book and how Marika should be transformed.
I am unable to give this book 5 stars due primarily to the amount of romance sections that did not provide as much value as space in the book.
I enjoyed obtaining insight into this country that I know nothing about.

message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

The novel was pretty interesting, but I found much of it gruesome and disturbing, especially the sections in which Marika recounts her experiences as a war reporter. The White Mary also reminded me of State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, but I liked Patchett's novel better. Unlike some other readers, I did enjoy the sections dealing with Marika's relationship with Seb. I looked forward to those parts more than the chapters describing her harrowing adventures in Papua New Guinea. What I really didn't like was the author's decision to have Marika become sexually involved with one of the characters near the end of her stay in New Guinea. I wish she had maintained a platonic relationship with that person instead. I don't want to say too much about it, because I don't want to spoil the book for those who haven't finished reading it. The book provided an insightful profile of a woman so traumatized by violence and brutality that she is afraid to let others get too close, as well as a glimpse into a part of the world that few travelers ever visit.

message 11: by Darlene (new)

Darlene (darleneorlowski) | 2 comments I felt transported reading this book. I thought the jungle was so accurately described that I was completely absorbed in the story. Tobo was the best character in the book and it wouldn't have been same without him. I was confused somewhat in the beginning because the story went back and forth from the present to past but nonetheless this was a great "Around the World" read.

message 12: by Jeremy C. Brown (last edited Jul 26, 2012 10:44PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jeremy C. Brown | 14 comments Liked it and hated it. I just had to put it down half way through. There's just too much vulgar language and too much glorified illicit sexual descriptions that just make the book seem like a ridiculous soap opera or spanish novela... If you were to rate novels like movies it would likely be NC17.

I found it difficult to like the main character because she seemed very selfish and self absorbed. It seems like every character in the book was a slave to their sexual desires and I was left wondering what does this have to do with the great story and description of a war reporter crossing beautiful Papua New Guinean jungles. The author asks us to ponder the incredibly deep question of how we can sleep and night and live our lives happily and at times trivially while ignoring that so much suffering is happening all around the world. What a question to delve into and what a captivating story to follow it through! But what filth and trash to have to wade through in order to get at it... :-(

I assume it would have been better if I hadn't been listening to it as an audio ebook. If I were reading it in ink I suppose I could skip through the sexual scenes with greater ease, but then I'm left wondering if it would really worth it. I mean there's plenty of other great books out there.

A favorite quote of mine, well... paraphrased, was one in which the boy friend of the main character was telling her that she didn't need to repay or honor the victims of the world by never allowing herself to be happy.

Like I said liked it and hated it...

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Books mentioned in this topic

The White Mary (other topics)
State of Wonder (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Kira Salak (other topics)