Read advance reader review of The White Mary by Kira Salak, page 2 of 3

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The White Mary

A Novel

by Kira Salak

The White Mary by Kira Salak X
The White Mary by Kira Salak
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2008, 368 pages

    Sep 2009, 384 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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There are currently 17 member reviews
for The White Mary
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  • Laura (Los Angeles CA)
    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 genocide. But the things she witnesses leave her emotionally frozen.

    Escaping problems in her new love relationship, she goes to Papua New Guinea chasing down a rumor that her hero, Robert Lewis might still be alive in a remote village in the middle of a mostly unexplored area. Salak’s development of her characters, their feelings and motivations, can seem a bit wooden and manufactured, but she shines when describing Marika’s journey through the incredibly difficult terrain of Papua New Guinea. Marika deals with leeches, snakes, and the real possibility of deadly illness away from any of the comforts or safety of her western home. Salak, the author, traversed PNG solo and wrote an award-winning non-fiction book about the journey, making her descriptions of Marika’s experiences read like a wonderfully descriptive real life journal.

    Being a war correspondent, Marika is used to deprivation and difficulty but when she puts her life on the line time and again in her quest to find a man she never personally knew on the strength of a vague rumor I felt the character was stuck in a plot, rather than Marika’s story simply unfolding. But again, these chapters of her stay deep in jungle of PNG living among people who have rarely, if ever, seen a white person, are captivating.
  • Molly (Longmont CO)
    Better Her Than Me
    White Mary was surprisingly compelling, after my initial sense that the author was trying too hard and that the tale was contrived. If the writing doesn't carry the reader away, then the story had better be darn good, and in this case, I found it good enough to finish the book eagerly. Marika's emotional journey was predictable, albeit extreme. Her physical voyage was fascinating, however, through jungles and into a remoteness and total absence of creature comforts that was enthralling in an "I'm SO glad I'm not there" kind of way. Ms Salak has clearly experienced some of the horrors of which she writes, because her writing rings true and the book soars in these passages. I will search out her nonfiction account of travelling in Papua New Guinea, Four Corners, as I think I'd like her writing more if she didn't feel obliged to insert a manufactured plot.
  • Ann (Clermont GA)
    The White Mary by Kira Salak
    Adventurous journalist Marika Vecurs has dedicated her life to writing about the world's "hell holes", During a particularly arduous trip to Papua New Guinea, she realizes that though she has dared death many times, that it ultimately takes more courage to live than it does to die. This adventure story would appeal to anyone who delights in reading about faraway places and high adventure.
  • 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)
    White Mary
    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.
  • Louella (Phoenix AZ)
    Lost in a Jungle of Words
    This was a hard book to keep reading. The leading character seemed too self involved to hold my interest. Her motivations were all negative in nature. Finally, new characters and a shift in locale provided the catalyst to see growth and courage emerge in her. Finally, the reader is rewarded with a moral epiphany on her part that makes the whole book worth the patience of reading it.

    This book would appeal to people who enjoy travel, adventure and spiritual growth. For a novel the writing was not engaging and the organization lacked the power to sustain my attention.
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