Plot: Marion Stone tells the story of his life, beginning with his mother's death during the birth of Marion and his twin brother, Shiva, and the disappearance of their father. As the years go on, Marion recounts their lives growing up at Missing Hospital in Ethiopia amid rising political unrest. The story crosses the ocean to America, where Marion confronts his past and must make peace with his future.
Characters: This novel boasts quite the cast of characters, and Verghese weaves them in and out of the storyline with skill. Each of the handful of main characters are well-developed and excellent studies in various sides of the human condition.
At 600+ pages, the book is quite hefty. There are a LOT of words. And I'll be honest and say that it didn't fully engage me until about 400 pages in. It was OK before that, but not a page turner. Aside from the excitement and tragedy surrounding the boys' birth, the "growing up" years were a bit of a slog. But, you know there is more to come, and that there's a reason for the build-up. And there is. With themes of family, forgiveness, compassion and unconditional love, the emotional end is well worth the slog. 4 stars.