One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni – Book Review

One Amazing Thing, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni opens with a  young woman sitting in an Indian passport and visa office in an unidentified city in the United States (my guess is somewhere in California),  observing  the employees and the other varied strangers seeking travel visas to India.  An older couple with marital problems, an ex-soldier tormented by his demons, an angry and militant youth, a perky granddaughter with her decades silent grandmother, employees of the visa office who are flirting with having an affair…each of them, along with their youthful observer, have a story.  When an earthquake leaves them trapped underground with diminishing expectations of rescue and few resources to sustain them, each is tasked with revealing just one amazing thing they have experienced in life.


Have you ever had the experience of being so totally into a novel that you only come up for air to wonder what other books the author has written, and how fast you can get your hands on more?  *Nods.* Yup.  I felt that way about Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s book One Amazing Thing.  I had to reassure myself with a quick  google search that there were indeed more of her books out there just waiting to be read and enjoyed. Whew!  There are 14 more!


One of the great joys of this book is the way that Divakaruni is able to develop the characters so completely through the little ways they interact with each other, and how they handle themselves in the aftermath of the earthquake.  The characters were varied and I initially reacted to each of them differently as a reader, much the way they had different opinions of each other as they are sitting in the waiting room, and then again later on after it is clear that a catastrophe has occurred.  Some of them I liked immediately, some I didn’t like right of the bat- but warmed to, and others I never liked, but understood and rooted for nonetheless.


I love the method that Divakaruni used for exposition of each of the characters and why they were in the passport office in the first place.  It’s easily read on the book jacket, but I am glad that I didn’t look at it until after I read the book. The story was able to unfold naturally for me and I enjoyed each surprise.  This book is all about relationships, the burdens of the past that we carry, and how they sneak up on us and affect our every day decision making in ways that we often don’t examine.  One Amazing Thing is a beautiful book that illustrates perfectly that if we had any inkling of each others experiences, we would approach each other with more compassion and understanding, if not in friendship and love. Highly recommended!

Read More Reviews At:  Bibliophile By The Sea

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Blogger Unplugged! December 23,  2009   Jan 2, 2010

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  1. I can’t wait to read this one! It sounds the like the perfect book for my taste 🙂

    Great seeing you yesterday! Thank goodness we left yesterday, with the snowstorm today.
    .-= mari´s last blog ..Review: Dream House =-.

  2. I had this book on my radar but hadn’t heard any bloggers’ opinions yet. Well now I know and I’m ordering it from the library asap. I had no idea she had so many other books. I hope I like her work too, I love finding a new author I like. Thanks for a great review Nicole.
    .-= Sandra´s last blog ..Library Loot =-.

    1. Doesn’t it just make you mad with all the info they give it. Most times I only read the barest hints of the first sentences and just get a book if I read the first few pages and like the writing style. I like to have the experience of the book unfolding.

  3. I’ve heard nothing but good about this one!
    .-= Sheri´s last blog ..Book Review: Crazy Aunt Purl’s Home Is Where The Wine Is by Laurie Perry =-.

    1. More and more I am just reading a few sentences of the blurb and then a few pages of the first chapter to get a feel for whether I want to read something. I really like discovering and experiencing the book on my own.

  4. This is one author I really need to read! And this book sounds great to me too! And this is not the 1st time, the jacket gives away too much! But I am more irked by jackets that giv a wrong impression!
    .-= veens´s last blog ..Attracted to Oranges! =-.

    1. The wrong impression is very annoying too. I have read some books that were probably okay books but they were just not what I was looking for and nothing like how they were described on the cover. False advertising hurts everyone.

    1. I think you have the right idea. I might go back now and start with her first one. It will be fun to see if she started out writing like that or if and how she has developed over time.

  5. This sounds like a lovely read! I’ll have to see if my library has it; I’ve been wearing out my holds request button lately, it seems!