In a small rural village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa watches from the woods as Russian soldiers abduct her father in the middle of the night and then set fire to her home. When their lifelong neighbor Akhmed finds Havaa hiding in the forest with a strange blue suitcase, he makes a decision that will forever change their lives. He will seek refuge at the abandoned hospital where the sole remaining doctor, Sonja Rabina, treats the wounded.
For Sonja, the arrival of Akhmed and Havaa is an unwelcome surprise. Weary and overburdened, she has no desire to take on additional risk and responsibility. But over the course of five extraordinary days, Sonja’s world will shift on its axis and reveal the intricate pattern of connections that weaves together the pasts of these three unlikely companions and unexpectedly decides their fate. A story of the transcendent power of love in wartime, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a work of sweeping breadth, profound compassion, and lasting significance.
I don’t know what made me pick this book up while browsing a bookstore, but I’m so glad I did. While a story that takes place in Chechnya made not sound incredibly interesting, I can promise you this book is. While the book was far from a happy tale, it was written so beautifully. The book has stayed with me for days now and I can’t stop thinking about each character, their lives and how each of their stories unfolded. Anthony Marra is truly a gifted writer and I can’t wait to read more from him.