My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I started off lost in a coulee reading A Constellation of Vital Phenomena with seven of my Traveling Sisters and some of us really got lost with this story. We all found our comfy spot to read this and were drawn into this densely vivid heavy in-depth plot that demanded our full attention. As life pulled some of the sisters away from the story they became really lost with their focus and had to leave the coulee and return back to read this at another time. Leaving three sisters and myself in a coulee continuing to read this story together.
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena has a complicated plot with many side plots and characters and we found it easy to get lost in the plot and at times felt we missed some connections between characters in this delicate web of connections. It takes some patience but in the end, it was really worth it as it all comes brilliantly together and things become clear just how extraordinary this story really is.
In the background to this web of interesting and complex characters are the Chechen wars and we see how some horrific events unfold around our characters. In the center of the story we meet and come to care for Havaa. Our main characters, a village doctor Akhmed and another doctor who runs the hospital on her own, Sonja both try to hide Haraa and protect her after her father is abducted by Russian soldiers.
Anthony Marra brilliantly adds layers and depth to the plot and characters and then as the end nears gradually peels them back, revealing more and more and only, in the end, we can see the connections to the story. The ending so brilliantly done led to an interesting final discussion where we shared our feelings and appreciation for reading this phenomenal story.
We highly recommend for everyone and especially for book clubs. Loads to discuss with this one and we also recommend not to be missed for book clubs who come together in person to discuss the plot and characters. We suggest taking this book and really hiding or locking yourself away with your favorite beverage and really taking some time to yourself to focus on this dense plot. It’s worth the focus.