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Saving the World

Saving the World

Ratings:

3.28

(1)
|Views: 115|Likes:
Published by Workman Publishing
Latina novelist Alma Huebner is suffering from writer's block and is years past the completion date for yet another of her bestselling family sagas. Her husband, Richard, works for a humanitarian organization dedicated to the health and prosperity of developing countries and wants her help on an extended AIDS assignment in the Dominican Republic. But Alma begs off joining him: the publisher is breathing down her neck. She promises to work hard and follow him a bit later.

The truth is that Alma is seriously sidetracked by a story she has stumbled across. It's the story of a much earlier medical do-gooder, Spaniard Francisco Xavier Balmis, who in 1803 undertook to vaccinate the populations of Spain's American colonies against smallpox. To do this, he required live "carriers" of the vaccine.

Of greater interest to Alma is Isabel Sendales y Gómez, director of La Casa de Expósitos, who was asked to select twenty-two orphan boys to be the vaccine carriers. She agreed— with the stipulation that she would accompany the boys on the proposed two-year voyage. Her strength and courage inspire Alma, who finds herself becoming obsessed with the details of Isabel's adventures.

This resplendent novel-within-a-novel spins the disparate tales of two remarkable women, both of whom are swept along by machismo. In depicting their confrontation of the great scourges of their respective eras, Alvarez exposes the conflict between altruism and ambition.
Latina novelist Alma Huebner is suffering from writer's block and is years past the completion date for yet another of her bestselling family sagas. Her husband, Richard, works for a humanitarian organization dedicated to the health and prosperity of developing countries and wants her help on an extended AIDS assignment in the Dominican Republic. But Alma begs off joining him: the publisher is breathing down her neck. She promises to work hard and follow him a bit later.

The truth is that Alma is seriously sidetracked by a story she has stumbled across. It's the story of a much earlier medical do-gooder, Spaniard Francisco Xavier Balmis, who in 1803 undertook to vaccinate the populations of Spain's American colonies against smallpox. To do this, he required live "carriers" of the vaccine.

Of greater interest to Alma is Isabel Sendales y Gómez, director of La Casa de Expósitos, who was asked to select twenty-two orphan boys to be the vaccine carriers. She agreed— with the stipulation that she would accompany the boys on the proposed two-year voyage. Her strength and courage inspire Alma, who finds herself becoming obsessed with the details of Isabel's adventures.

This resplendent novel-within-a-novel spins the disparate tales of two remarkable women, both of whom are swept along by machismo. In depicting their confrontation of the great scourges of their respective eras, Alvarez exposes the conflict between altruism and ambition.

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Publish date: Jan 1, 2006
Added to Scribd: Mar 10, 2011
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reservedISBN:9781616201029
List Price: $13.95

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01/09/2015

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9781616201029

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Activity (12)

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nivramkoorb reviewed this
Rated 4/5
I enjoyed the 2 stories working together. It was especially interesting because of the historical context of the story. I always enjoy books that give me insight into other cultures and especially ones that are historical in nature. A good read.
junipersun reviewed this
Rated 4/5
My first Alvarez novel. While I found it hard, at first, to like Alma, with her doubts about her husband & her dithering about her progress on her contracted novel, I did like the love she showed for her elderly neighbor, & the moments of self-awareness that shone thru the more she delved into the historic story she was writing. I loved how Alma's thoughts at the end of one chapter were reflected in Isabel's in the historic chapters.I found some great quotes to inspire me. Living outside of your comfort zone, taking that blind step forward into the future, appeal to me.I was disappointed in the ending, how Alma appears accepting of the way things turned out, yet we aren't shown the struggle this would take (other than in the first few days) so it seemed false.
nyiper reviewed this
Hmmmm.....I definitely liked listening to this story within a story but it left me feeling sort of empty at the end. I felt as though I should have just plain expected what was going to happen and where we would be with both stories when the author stopped.
ljuneosborne reviewed this
Very, very entertaining, very, very well written. The two stories of Isabel and Alma are put together in a way that makes them mirror each other, a voice from the past with a voice from the present. I enjoyed the character Tera - everyone knows someone like her. The idea of doing something crazy on a whim to try and solve a problem bigger than oneself is prevalent, as well as the victories and consequences.
gkluit_1 reviewed this
Rated 2/5
What a disappointment this book was! It started out as a good read. I also had good hopes, because I have read several other books by the author and liked them. This one however doesn't match the others.
billpilgrim_1 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
This was a quick read and I found it rather enjoyable. I did not like the way the author killed off the husband. At the beginning, you can see that the marriage is in trouble, and expect them to separate, but his death is too neat for me. Also, the copy of the book I read had a picture of a bed on the cover, and this did not make any sense to me, or to my friend who read it at the same time I did.
Publishers Weekly reviewed this
In Alvarez's appealingly earnest fifth novel (after A Cafecito Story), two women living two centuries apart each face "a crisis of the soul" when their fates are tied to idealistic men whose commitments to medical humanitarian missions end in disillusionment. Alma Heubner's husband, Richard, goes to the Dominican Republic to help eradicate AIDS, while Alma, a bestselling Latina writer, stays at home in Vermont to work on a story about a real, ill-fated 19th-century expedition chaperoned by Dona Isabel Sendales y Gomez, the spinster director of a Spanish orphanage who agrees to vaccinate 20 of her charges with cowpox and bring them from Spain to Central America to prevent future smallpox epidemics. While the leader of the anti-smallpox expedition, Dr. Francisco Balmis, and Richard see their missions collapse in defeat, Dona Isabel and Alma surmount their personal depressions to find inner strength. Alvarez depicts her two heroines with insightful empathy and creates vivid supporting characters. But her effort to find resonating similarities between the intertwined plots sometimes feels contrived, and the details of Dona Isabel's odyssey slow the momentum. The narrative culminates in a compelling scene in which greed and ineptitude trump idealism, dramatizing the question of whether the means are ever justified by the ends. (Apr. 7) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

2005-11-28, Publishers Weekly
bhowell_35 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. This is literature, not just an amazing compelling read. Julia Alvarez is truly an American treasure. I could not put this book down and read it over a period of 2-3 days. It is partly historical fiction. The book moves back and forth between two remarkable women, one a present day American Hispanic writer, and the other a Spanish woman who in 1803 travels from Spain to the Americas with Francisco Balmis to vaccinate the populations of Spain's American colonies against smallpox. The historical Isabel selected 22 orphan boys from Spain to be the carriers of the cowpox virus so that vaccine could be made continuously. She is brought to take care of the boys on the 2 year expedition. The Latina novelist Alma, finds herself obsessed with Isabel's story, but faces a similar adventure in her own life which takes her to the Dominican Republic. The two women in the book face the dilemma of plagues (in the case of Isabel, small pox, in the case of Alma, Aids), poverty, politics and altruism. Do the ends justify the means? Can poor people be used for the greater good even if their lives and health are endangered in the process? The use of the orphans in 1803 to prevent smallpox and the use of poor people in the third world to test an Aids vaccine raise similar dilemma's dilemmas in the lives of these two women. The book is written with great compassion and insight. Now I must read "In the name of Salome" which has been sitting on my to read shelf for some time.
claudiabowman reviewed this
Rated 3/5
Rather disappointing. The passages about the smallpox expedition were fun to read. The rest was rather boring, despite its melodrama.
Publishers Weekly reviewed this
In Alvarez's appealingly earnest fifth novel (after A Cafecito Story), two women living two centuries apart each face "a crisis of the soul" when their fates are tied to idealistic men whose commitments to medical humanitarian missions end in disillusionment. Alma Heubner's husband, Richard, goes to the Dominican Republic to help eradicate AIDS, while Alma, a bestselling Latina writer, stays at home in Vermont to work on a story about a real, ill-fated 19th-century expedition chaperoned by Dona Isabel Sendales y Gomez, the spinster director of a Spanish orphanage who agrees to vaccinate 20 of her charges with cowpox and bring them from Spain to Central America to prevent future smallpox epidemics. While the leader of the anti-smallpox expedition, Dr. Francisco Balmis, and Richard see their missions collapse in defeat, Dona Isabel and Alma surmount their personal depressions to find inner strength. Alvarez depicts her two heroines with insightful empathy and creates vivid supporting characters. But her effort to find resonating similarities between the intertwined plots sometimes feels contrived, and the details of Dona Isabel's odyssey slow the momentum. The narrative culminates in a compelling scene in which greed and ineptitude trump idealism, dramatizing the question of whether the means are ever justified by the ends. (Apr. 7) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

2005-11-28, Publishers Weekly

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