Elise (Macedonia OH)
I think I would have preferred the non-fiction version.
The author, Kira Salak, appears to use the main character, Marika Vecera, to incorporate her personal experiences in the Papua New Guinea jungle, and tries to weave in a spiritual journey along the way. I found myself captivated by Marikas struggles in the Papua New Guinea jungle, and her descriptions of the various cultures; however, the story line and the other characters did not seem credible to me. I found the book a page turner despite of the story line and other characters instead of because of them.
Roberta (Mesa AZ)
The author may be an accomplished writer, but the affectations used as writing style nearly prevented me from completing this book. The subject as a whole is quite depressing and the author pushes through her condescending attitude that we "lambs" know or care about nothing that lies greater than 2 feet from our nose. I suppose the author has done her job by getting me riled and thinking about the topic at hand, but I hesitate to say I enjoyed the process.
Janice (Bluffton SC)
Kira Salak has fashioned a powerful tale. I was glued to the pages as she took me through the jungle to Papua New Guinea introducing me to customs and people I never imagined. This is a beautiful descriptive novel with exceptional characterization packed with love and adventure.
Hats off to a winner and a fine novelist!
Suzanne Johnson (Auburn AL)
One Woman's Heart of Darkness
How much sorrow and intentional pain can we witness without losing our souls? It's a highly personal question that award-winning journalist Kira Salak explores in her first novel, The White Mary. Knowing that Salak has herself spent much time in the heart of Papua New Guinea and covering atrocities in the Third World brings a sense of realism to this story that makes it all the more heartbreaking. It has some awkward tense changes in the beginning, and the character of Seb could have been better developed, but the plotting and pace of the book are impeccable and the story riveting. I highly recommend it.
William (Russellville AR)
The Soul Will Know Where to Go
The sections of the book that deal with the Congo, Papua New Guinea, and East Timor are harrowing. Salak writes about some of the horrors and dangerous places in our world with an insider's knowledge. Portions of the sections that describe Marika's relationships with Seb and Sanders seem contrived at times. However, they also reflect the rage that Marika has about what she has seen and experienced. This profound rage is ultimately given full expression by Lewis. I closed the book hoping that Marika and Lewis find peace and maybe even salvation.
Barbara (Rockville MD)
The White Mary
I enjoyed this book a great deal. The writing and the story are engaging and the author's knowledge of Papua New Guinea is insightful. The main character's journey, both physically and emotionally, through unchartered territory is compelling. The author's descriptions of the privations, dangers and diseases encountered along the way are at times difficult to read, but they are never gratuitous and remain integral to the narrative. Many good book club discussion points about hope, healing, and the search for life's meaning.
Kristen (Baltimore MD)
It is hardly worth mentioning that Kira Salek is a tremendous writer, and her knowledge of the worlds she speaks of is thorough and evocative. As an exploration of the trials of war-journalism, and a part of the world rarely visited by outsiders, this is well worth reading. As a novel, I found the characters self-indulgent in some cases, shallowly developed in others, and the conceit of the book - the main characters quest into the jungles of Papua New Guinea - never quite felt sufficient to the exercise: it was not a story needed to be told as much as the author had experiences she needed to share. Still, it was a fascinating ethnographic look at cultures I had never spent any time with (both the journalism and the PNG cultures), and I found the time spent in Salek's world well worth while.