Review of One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review of One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee DivakaruniOne Amazing Thing by Chitra Divakaruni
Published by Hachette Books on February 2nd 2010
Genres: Fiction, Literary
Pages: 240
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

Late afternoon sun sneaks through the windows of a passport and visa office in an unnamed American city. Most customers and even most office workers have come and gone, but nine people remain. A punky teenager with an unexpected gift. An upper-class Caucasian couple whose relationship is disintegrating. A young Muslim-American man struggling with the fallout of 9/11. A graduate student haunted by a question about love. An African-American ex-soldier searching for redemption. A Chinese grandmother with a secret past. And two visa office workers on the verge of an adulterous affair.
When an earthquake rips through the afternoon lull, trapping these nine characters together, their focus first jolts to their collective struggle to survive. There's little food. The office begins to flood. Then, at a moment when the psychological and emotional stress seems nearly too much for them to bear, the young graduate student suggests that each tell a personal tale, "one amazing thing" from their lives, which they have never told anyone before. And as their surprising stories of romance, marriage, family, political upheaval, and self-discovery unfold against the urgency of their life-or-death circumstances, the novel proves the transcendent power of stories and the meaningfulness of human expression itself. From Chitra Divakaruni, author of such finely wrought, bestselling novels as Sister of My Heart, The Palace of Illusions, and The Mistress of Spices, comes her most compelling and transporting story to date. One Amazing Thing is a passionate creation about survival--and about the reasons to survive.

One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is a smattering of short stories within the context of a larger story. Basically an earth quake hits some town in California, so I think nine people are trapped in the Indian Consulate office. These people are all panicking and unhappy until Uma, a grad student who reads awesome books like The Canterbury Tales comes up with the idea to have all who are trapped share one amazing story from their lives.

The premise of One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni sounds rather simple, but I felt these short stories provided more insight and character development than some novels I’ve read. If you had to pick one amazing thing from your life to share with someone, I would think you would share something which is truly representative of the type of person you are. I mean, there is the type of thing you would consider amazing, I’m sure we all have different ideas of what is amazing. Would you chose something small? Or something big?

I enjoyed the diverse cast of characters in One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. There was Cameron, the African-American who had a fabulous story about why he wanted to visit India. Mangalam, the boss of the consulate who has an interesting reason to be in America. Lily, the Chinese-American teenager and her grandmother – I think I loved Lily’s story the most.

Tariq – a young man strong in his Islamic beliefs. Mr. and Mrs. Pritchett – the only white characters, Mr. Pritchett’s story literally made my eyes water. I know you probably expect each character’s story to have a common thread, but they don’t. Each story shared offers a glimpse into the life of a character which left me wanting more than just the single look.

The writing style was gorgeous. For example, this quote “When I Was A Child,’ Jiang began, ‘I lived inside a secret.” Doesn’t that just leave you wanting more? Jiang’s story is again, sad, but lovely. It left me imagining Chinatown within India. Strange right?

The pacing was fairly fast, because as said the short stories are interspersed within the reaction to the earthquake, so when a story would end, you would see how the characters are dealing with the quake. I was literally unable to put this book down, the stories were so compelling. I read One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni in two sittings.

While reading One Amazing Thing I suggest taking a break from it and if it emotionally effects you, instead of spending some cash money on wine, put that money towards Haiti relief, as this book does have an earthquake within it.

I read this as part of the POC Challenge

Other Reviews of One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni:

Chicks With Books – “This book would be a great book club selection

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Oh, this looks good. I added it to my tbr list. Enjoyed your review.

    Jennifer @ Mrs. Q: Book Addict

  2. MissAttitude says

    This book looks really good! Thank you for the review, I'll definitely keep my eye out for it. I love reading about seemingly unconnected stories (well I guess from your review there really is no connection, just that they all suffer in the earthquake but still!)

    I'm really glad I've discovered your blog, you've brought some great books to my attention 🙂

  3. I've heard a lot about this book but I want to read the first book by the author I have before I buy a bunch of others 🙂 I have her retelling of the Mahabharata and must read that soon!

  4. Juju at Tales of says

    Oh I am SO jealous. I desperately want this book. Great review!

  5. robby (once upon a book blog/fourteen years) says

    This book sounds really great. The premise sounds really interesting and original. I think I may have to add this to my MUSTREADNOW list. ;D

  6. Sounds like an amazing book. Wonderful review.

  7. You have an award! Come get!

  8. Jennifer G. says

    This sounds fantastic! I'm adding it to my list now.

  9. Christina T says

    Thanks for sharing your review! This book sounds fantastic. Your review convinced me to give it a try for the POC Challenge.

  10. Jennifer (Crazy-for-Books) says

    I recently received this book for review as well. I'm so glad you gave it such a positive review. I'm excited to read it! 🙂

    Thanks for joining the Hop!