Review first published on my blog: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2011/09/state-of-wonder.html
State of Wonder is the story of Dr. Marina Singh, a doctor who now works for a pharmaceutical company. The company is funding a drug development program in Brazil. The book begins as Dr. Singh discovers that a colleague who traveled to Brazil to report on the project is reported dead. She herself travels to Brazil to try and determine what happens.
Her journey is one of discovery about herself, her colleague, the project, and the culture. In addition, the story delves into her memories of her childhood, thoughts of her father who could not bridge cultural gaps to keep his family together, nightmares from a drug reaction, mistakes and people from her past, and reflections on her life and relationships as a whole.
I am left wondering what this book was really about. The book has a somewhat hypnotic and surreal tone that keeps you reading. However, it left me unsatisfied at the end waiting for a resolution. The book is a personal story of this one character. It is also an implicit discussion of medical ethics, ethics of pharmaceutical development, and ethics of going into, adapting to, and/or changing the indigenous cultures of an area. The book does do an effective job of highlighting these issues.
Most of the book focuses on one set of characters and builds the plot and characters in one direction. The end of the story comes from what seems to be a completely separate direction and leaves you wondering, "Where did that come from?". I am still wondering.