My love affair with Pearl Buck’s books began when I was in high school and had to write my first term paper. We had a list of authors to choose from and when it came my turn to pick, she was the only female author left on the list so I picked her. I then had to read one of her books and at the time I found her writing to be very dense and difficult for me to get through. On the other hand, the images she painted and the characters she developed stayed with me for years until as an adult I came back to her writings and discovered the richness her stories contained. I have by no means read her entire canon of work and the books that I have read have all been set in China or Japan, which made this book, set in the U.S. a bit of a surprise.
“The Eternal Wonder” is Pearl Buck’s final book, written not too long before she died. The manuscript had been lost for 40 years after her death and was rediscovered in an abandoned storage unit. The family was finally able to publish it in 2013. I found this story fascinating because she takes the reader through the life of the boy Rann starting when he is in the womb. In the first part of the book we follow him as he grows and develops into a young man. What I enjoyed the most about this part is the way she was able to portray not just the incidents of his life but how they affected the development of this thinking. I have always been curious about how the mind works and I just thoroughly enjoyed, in this case, observing Rann’s mind from his perspective. Rann’s life takes an interesting turn when he is about 17 and Part II covers the next 4 years or so as he begins to find his place in the world, where he fits, how he will support himself, what role relationships will play in his life.
In this book there is much reference to people who are on the outside looking in, either because they are being discriminated against, or by choice, or by circumstances. I think one of Ms. Buck’s gifts as a writer is her ability to incorporate into a fictional story, an analysis of the culture in which the characters exist and she has done a marvelous job of pointing out cultural missteps in this book. I think her themes were relevant at the time she wrote them but they are still relevant today. Many of the cultural norms she exposes are still present in our current society and the thoughtful reader will use this book as an opportunity to evaluate their own perspective and how they relate to those that are different. In my opinion, “The Eternal Wonder” is another masterpiece from this Nobel winning author and should be read by everybody.
Alinefromabook’s rating: TWO THUMBS-UP!!