A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is by Anthony Marra. A magnificent novel set in Chechnya in 2004. This novel follows a group of characters whose lives are, for the most part, unknowingly intertwined. Things come to a head when eight-year-old Havaa hides in the woods and watches Russian soldiers abduct her father and burn her home. Their neighbor, Akhmed, afraid for Havaa, takes her to a nearby city to what passes for a hospital in the war-torn country. The hospital is run by Sonja, an ethnic Russian and the sole remaining doctor. Over the five days after Havaa's father's disappearance, we learn through a series of flashbacks the web of events which link the lives of all the characters. This book is a brutal look at war and what people do to survive. It chronicles both the humanity and inhumanity of humankind. It is a novel filled with pain, regret, evil, and yet incredible bravery and courage. A must read especially for those of us who have never known the horrors of prolonged war and the toll it takes on the human soul. Read this book!!! You won't be sorry. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read.
Ratings: 12th grade - 10 out of 10 - AC (mature thematic content) - V (violence).