Marika Vecera, an accomplished war reporter, has dedicated her life to helping the world’s oppressed and forgotten. When not on one of her dangerous assignments, she lives in Boston, exploring a new relationship with Seb, a psychologist who offers her glimpses of a better world.
Returning from a harrowing assignment in the Congo where she was kidnapped by rebel soldiers, Marika learns that a man she has always admired from afar, Pulitzer-winning war correspondent Robert Lewis, has committed suicide. Stunned, she abandons her magazine work to write Lewis’s biography, settling down with Seb as their intimacy grows. But when Marika finds a curious letter from a missionary claiming to have seen Lewis in the remote jungle of Papua New Guinea, she has to wonder, What if Lewis isn’t dead?
Marika soon leaves Seb to embark on her ultimate journey in one of the world’s most exotic and unknown lands. Through her eyes we experience the harsh realities of jungle travel, embrace the mythology of native tribes, and receive the special wisdom of Tobo, a witch doctor and sage, as we follow her extraordinary quest to learn the truth about Lewis—and about herself, along the way.
If I hadn’t been purposely seeking out a book set in Papua New Guinea (PNG) for my Around the World challenge, I likely never would have picked up this book. Yet, when I did, I was immediately draw into Marika’s life (and for what its worth, I loved her name). She is the kind of kick-ass successful female character that could be used as a role-model in today’s society. The kind of woman that says, yes, I know I might get killed on this assignment, but I’m going to do it anyways. The book is took in two different styles, a present day narrative of her experiences travelling through the isolated jungles of PNG with only a local witch-doctor as her guide, and through flash-backs to her life before PNG – her experiences in various war zones, finding a life that isn’t in a war zone, discovering that her idol has committed suicide and her decision to write his biography and where that leads.
Kira Salak, the author, brings a world of experience to her characters and it seems as though at times, that Marika is a reflect of her and her travels. She has written for National Geographic as well as many other journals and magazines. The visual imagery found in The White Mary was so engaging that I felt like I was in PNG with Marika, and could almost even feel the leechs on me at various times (ick! – lol!). I plan on trying to find Ms Salak’s memoir of her backpacking journey through PNG in the future and see how it compares to the White Mary. Overall, 3.5 stars, but with a recommendation to people who like thought-provoking reads.