Life of Pi

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Have you ever had the experience of reading a book, and then wondering why you haven't heard about the book before?

That's how I felt when I read Life of Pi.

I had never heard of the book. No one I know had ever mentioned it casually in conversation. To be completely honest, the reason I read it was because it was on a list of books I found on Facebook.

I'm glad I did. This book approaches the quality of books like Death Comes for the Archbishop or The Chosen. Books that have become required high school reading. (Maybe it is somewhere and my school just missed it.)

The back cover of the book said "A story to make you believe in God."

What more compelling reason do you need to pick up the book.

Life of Pi tells the story of Pi Patel, a young boy moving with his family from India to Canada. During the trip, the boat sinks, and he becomes stranded on a lifeboat. His only company: a full grown Bengal tiger.

Through exquisite story telling and heart-wrenching detail, Yann Martel examines what it means to be human. In austere surroundings, what is it that separates us from animals? During survival, what parts of humanity are you willing to give up and which do you hang on to until your last breath?

Pi's story is incredible. But as I read, I didn't ask questions. I just believed every word. Every event. Every detail.

At the end, he is questioned about your story. It is only when Pi is met by doubt and disbelief by others that a little doubt and disbelief enter your head. Is that what makes us doubt in the first place? Other people's doubt and not our own disbelief of things?

I'm not sure that the story did what the cover said. As in, I didn't have a spiritual epiphany. I'm not even sure I felt with an overwhelming sense of awe.

Many of the reviews of the book described it as a "study of religion" or "a reflection on the many meanings of religion." I didn't take that away from the book. Arguably the first part of the book is about the main characters own religious discoveries, but that is not a continued theme.

For me, it was more a discussion on belief and doubt. Humanity versus animal nature.

But I guess that is what makes books like this so great. Every reader is free to interpret as they will.


Karen said...

It sounds like a really great book. I've heard of it, but I had no idea what it was about. Guess I have another one to add to my stack... Thanks! :-)