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The White Mary by Kira Salak
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The White Mary

by Kira Salak

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2255051,607 (3.73)41
  1. 10
    The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (alaskabookworm)
    alaskabookworm: While there are considerable differences between these two books, in terms of their unflinching look at some of life's hardest questions, these books affected me similarly.
  2. 00
    State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (DetailMuse)
  3. 00
    Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski (alaskabookworm)
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Marika Vecera is a reporter who is known for taking the dangerous assignments. Stylizing herself on her hero, journalist, Robert Lewis, she takes jobs in war-ton countries and has been in extreme danger more than once.

She decides to write a biography of her idol after learning of his suicide. Part of her research involves a trip through the jungles of Papua New Guinea because of vague rumors that Robert Lewis is alive and can be found there. Known as the White Mary by the natives, she embarks on a symbolic journey where she learns as much about herself and her relationships as she does about Robert Lewis.

The details of her trip through these jungles makes the book worthwhile reading. The author has travelled extensively in Papua New Guinea and her descriptions really places you there. The rest unfortunately left me rather disappointed The writing just didn’t captivate me, I found the characters quite flat, and even the most intense scenes did not connect with me emotionally. Disappointing as there is an excellent story here that just needed a more dynamic writer. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Dec 16, 2011 |
This is a compelling story about a young woman's search for a journalist who has supposedly died, but instead has hidden himself away from the world in the deepest recesses of the vast jungle of Papua New Guinea. It is very authentic in that the author, Kira Salak, has made such journeys herself in Papua New Guinea and the Congo as described in her two nonfiction books about them. She has turned her experiences into this well paced and believeable story about one woman's search for a missing man and for her own missing identity. A great read. ( )
  readyreader | Nov 8, 2011 |
I got this book as an advance reader's edition through the amazon Vine program. Not normally the type of book I read, but it sounded interesting.

Kira Salak herself has a very interesting background. If you go to this book on amazon, she has posted some links to photos she took both in the Congo and Papua New Guinea.

The book itself deals with Marika Vecera; a journalist who covers stories in war torn countries. At a talk she meets a psychologist named Seb; who introduces her to happiness and a different world where Marika isn't constantly under threat of death. After a particularly dangerous assignment in the Congo, Marika hears of the death of Robert Lewis, a man whose journalism she has long admired. When rumors surface of him having been seen in Papau New Guina she decides to check it out. Will her trip to Papau New Guinea destroy Marika's relationship with Seb? Will she find Robert Lewis? Will she live through her trip through the dense jungle? These are all questions the book answers.

The book was very well written and very gripping. It bounces from the past that lead to her trip to Papau New Guinea (PNG) to the present where she is fighting her way through the jungle. I really found the subject intriguing and had a lot of trouble putting this book down. The characters were interesting and the setting very unique. You could really tell that Salak had experienced these places and been here before.

This book was not for the faint of heart. The descriptions of war scenes are vivid as is the the gruesome trip through the jungle. The part of this book I found most interesting were the justifications that war journalists had for why they do this work. It was neat to see into the mind of a war journalist and try to understand what those people get out of doing such a crazily dangerous job.

Of course Marika's journey of learning how to live through happiness versus sadness in also interesting. As is some of her contemplation on why she has such a hard time living a normal day to day live. At one point she explains that listening to Seb in the kitchen seems so unimportant and trivial considering that a day ago she was struggling to survive shootings, bombings and kidnapping in the Congo. It made me grateful for the life I live.

Salak is a great writer and this was an awesome, eye-opening book. ( )
  krau0098 | Feb 3, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Marika is a hard hitting journalist who prides herself on telling the stories of the victims of the world's most ravaged places. while being pulled to tell their tragedies she avoids her own painful history that threatens to destroy any chance of normalcy or intimacy. it takes a journey into the heaaart of Papua New Guinea before she begins to see examine what matters most to her.
Marika is head strong, proud and self-sabotaging. there were many points in the story where she sounded like an acting out 13 year old rather than a battle weary journalist.
the intertwining of her story with that of the jouranlist she is seeking was at times hard to follow, I would have loved for the story to have delved more deeply into her own story.
good overall read. ( )
  mccin68 | Dec 28, 2009 |
“The White Mary” by Kira Salak is a story about a female journalist whose career has been in war-torn and ravaged countries, who has narrowly escaped death time and again, who now embarks on a quest deep into the jungles of Papua New Guinea to investigate the disappearance of a highly esteemed fellow journalist who is understood to have committed suicide six months earlier. I loved this book. Imagine a combination of Heart of Darkness, Fieldwork, and The Sparrow and you sort of get the picture. However, be warned, this is not for the faint of heart. There are some soul-breaking scenes and hard questions about life are asked. The answers may not be so elegant and mystical as The Sparrow, but this was an absolutely riveting story about finding peace in a very, very messed up world. ( )
  alaskabookworm | Dec 23, 2009 |
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Epigraph
He who is near me is near the fire. - Jesus, Gnostic gospels
Dedication
In loving memory of Marc Salak 1968-2005 (remember to wait for me)
First words
The black waters of Elobi Creek show no sign of a current.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805088474, Hardcover)

A young woman journeys deep into the untamed jungle, wrestling with love and loss, trauma and healing, faith and redemption, in this sweeping debut from “the gutsiest woman adventurer of our day” (Book Magazine)

Marika Vecera, an accomplished war reporter, has dedicated her life to helping the world’s oppressed and forgotten. When not on one of her dangerous assignments, she lives in Boston, exploring a new relationship with Seb, a psychologist who offers her glimpses of a better world.

Returning from a harrowing assignment in the Congo where she was kidnapped by rebel soldiers, Marika learns that a man she has always admired from afar, Pulitzer-winning war correspondent Robert Lewis, has committed suicide. Stunned, she abandons her magazine work to write Lewis’s biography, settling down with Seb as their intimacy grows. But when Marika finds a curious letter from a missionary claiming to have seen Lewis in the remote jungle of Papua New Guinea, she has to wonder, What if Lewis isn’t dead?

Marika soon leaves Seb to embark on her ultimate journey in one of the world’s most exotic and unknown lands. Through her eyes we experience the harsh realities of jungle travel, embrace the mythology of native tribes, and receive the special wisdom of Tobo, a witch doctor and sage, as we follow her extraordinary quest to learn the truth about Lewis—and about herself, along the way.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:07 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A young journalist journeys deep into the jungles of Papua New Guinea, determined to discover the truth about a Pultizer-winning war correspondent.

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