Marika Vecera, an accomplished war reporter, has dedicated her life to helping the worlds oppressed and forgotten. When not on one of her dangerous assignments, she lives in Boston, exploring a new relationship with Seb, a psychologist who offers her glimpses of a better world.
Returning from a harrowing assignment in the Congo where she was kidnapped by rebel soldiers, Marika learns that a man she has always admired from afar, Pulitzer-winning war correspondent Robert Lewis, has committed suicide. Stunned, she abandons her magazine work to write Lewiss biography, settling down with Seb as their intimacy grows. But when Marika finds a curious letter from a missionary claiming to have seen Lewis in the remote jungle of Papua New Guinea, she has to wonder, What if Lewis isnt dead?
Marika soon leaves Seb to embark on her ultimate journey in one of the worlds most exotic and unknown lands. Through her eyes we experience the harsh realities of jungle travel, embrace the mythology of native tribes, and receive the special wisdom of Tobo, a witch doctor and sage, as we follow her extraordinary quest to learn the truth about Lewisand about herself, along the way.
Salak makes some stylistic decisions that initially come across as awkward, choosing to differentiate the PNG scenes from those occurring elsewhere by a change in tense .... Fortunately, the plot is so involving that the reader is willing to overlook the book's weaknesses.
The White Mary is a great adventure story, and is certainly a page-turner. but it will not be for everyone. People who are bothered by graphic descriptions of brutality should probably give this novel a pass. Most fans of the genre, however, will want to put this one on their list. (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
A vivid journey too often slowed by tedious flashbacks...if only Marika's internal demons were as interesting as the external ones Tobo teaches her to surmount.
The prose is sometimes a bit pulpy, but the story is undeniably involving.
The prose is sometimes a bit pulpy, but the story is undeniably involving as Marika .... A good addition for all fiction collections.
Gripping…a blend of Heart of Darkness and Tomb Raider. While the book can be harrowing...it offers Marika a redemptive optimism in the face of the worst humanity has to offer. Pick of the Week.
One cannot write well about people risking their lives without having done it oneself; suffice it to say that Kira Salak is profoundly convincing on the topic. Salak's got it: That ability to capture the world in all its beauty and darkness and violence without romanticizing it. This is a book borne of the years that Salak spent as a journalist and traveler in some of the most terrifying places in the world, but she has held on to her basic humanity through it all. That essential humanity is what elevates The White Mary—and all of Salak's work—from mere 'adventure writing' to true literature. The reader is changed by it—changed in the same way Salak must have been, many times over, in the writing of it. This is a truly inspiring book about the kind of place I have spent many years reporting from. There is no doubt: She nailed it.
With The White Mary, journalist Kira Salak makes a stunning debut as a novelist. This is a story whose beauty and power sweeps you along, like the jungle rivers that bear her heroine into the heart of New Guinea in search of a vanished American. In the tradition of Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim and Graham Greene's The Heart of the Matter, The White Mary is a superb adventure tale that explores the human soul, a tale of a physical journey that frames a spiritual quest for love and meaning in a world sadly deficient in both.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Cherylynn The White Mary This book kept me on the edge and I did not want to put it down. It is hard to find a book that gets under my skin but this one did that. I never knew what was going to happen next and in no way could guess. That to me is a good book.
Rated of 5
by Jake An amazing, powerful, riveting book The characters, scenes, events and descriptions of this book are so real that I found myself almost living Marika's life and experiencing her trials, tribulations, and successes in her amazing journey from traumatic events to a spiritual awakening.... Read More
Rated of 5
by Erika The White Mary In Salak's dugout canoe take an inhospitable adventure into the jungles of Papua New Guinea in search of a man believed dead. But is he? Beautiful, hypnotic, mesmerizing, intoxicating. Raw in nature while elegant in spirit. Simple yet deeply... Read More
Rated of 5
by Laura The White Mary A harrowing adventure story at it’s core, The White Marycenters around Marika Vecera, a war correspondent always seeking out the world’s most dangerous situations because of a life-long commitment to tell the story of victims of war and... Read More
Rated of 5
by Roberta Depressing 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"... Read More
Rated of 5
by Suzanne 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... Read More
New Guinea, the second largest island in the world*, is situated approximately
150 miles (240 kilometers) north of Australia.
Independent State of Papua New Guinea (aka Papua New Guinea or PNG)
comprises the eastern half of the island. (The western half is the Indonesian
state of Irian Jaya.) PNG has an area of 178,703 square miles (462,860 square
kilometers) about the size of California with a population of 6.3 million
Archeological evidence suggests the island was inhabited approximately 50,000
years ago by Asian settlers. The first recorded contact with Europeans didn't
come until Portuguese explorer Jorge de Meneses "discovered" it in 1527. De
Meneses dubbed the island Ilhas do Papuas "The Island of the Fuzzy Hairs."
Later, Spanish explorer Inigo Ortiz de Retes named it New Guinea, because he
thought the people similar to those of Guinea in Africa.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...