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6 Books like Cutting For Stone: Blood Ties

Alice Baynton itcher‘Cutting For Stone’ is all about blood. Set in a world of doctors and hospitals, the story weaves its way around a medical education for the reader. The more important blood in this book, however, is the blood that binds a family, and that’s what I’ve gone for in this list of books like ‘Cutting For Stone’. ‘Ghana Must Go’, ‘The Abundance’, ‘Bitter in the Mouth’, ‘The Son’ and ‘Purple Hibiscus’ and ‘When God Was a Rabbit’ all showcase the bonds, the rifts, the arguments and the love of family. ~ Alice Baynton

We Are Family

Familial relationships are fascinating. Novelists, screenwriters, stage writers, songwriters and poets are all obsessed with the subject.

It seems that in a world with billions of families, no two of them work the same. There are always some members closer than others, in-jokes, habits and routines, but also disputes, lies and betrayals.

The authors of the books on this list of books like ‘Cutting For Stone’ all chose to wrestle with this tumultuous, tricky subject.  

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Books Similar to ‘Cutting For Stone’…

‘Ghana Must Go’ (Taiye Selasi, 2013)

Image Source: Shewriteswoman

I have recommended this book before, in my list of Nigerian female authors, but it is worthy of its place on this list because it has many similarities to ‘Cutting For Stone’.

Both ‘Ghana Must Go’ and ‘Cutting For Stone’ open with a death. They both feature families that are fractured and spread over large distances, but which must come back together under difficult circumstances. They both feature twins with extraordinary connections but who have been torn apart.

If you’re looking for a book like ‘Cutting For Stone’, look no further.

Similarity Match: 85%
Fractured family – yes. Dark histories – yes. Secrets and revelations – yes. Complicated reunions – yes. This book is a great follow up if you loved ‘Cutting For Stone’, although it is equally as heavy, so maybe take a break in between, go for a walk maybe, or watch a romantic comedy.

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‘The Son’ (Philip Meyer, 2012)

Image Source: Austin Chronicle

This book is different to ‘Cutting For Stone’ in many ways. The tone is much warmer, the family closer, the subject matter lighter, and it is full of descriptions of food and cookery instead of blood and surgery. It is, however, similar in that it is a study on healing rifts and estrangements within the family.

It also features conflicts of culture, which is a theme in ‘Cutting For Stone’ and all of the books on this list.

Majmudar fills this book with sensory description and delicate, wonderful turns of phrase to linger over and savour. A wonderful book that I would recommend to anyone.

Similarity Match: 85%
The situation and setting of ‘The Son’ is very different, and it feels completely masculine, stark and all-American, however, the similarities are clear. Fathers play an important part in this book, as Thomas Stone does in ‘Cutting For Stone’. There is also a brutality to both books, which has been missing in some of the other books on this list.

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‘Bitter In the Mouth’ (Monique Truong, 2010)

Image Source: Monique Truong

Family reunion under less-than-ideal circumstances, tick. Secrets and lies, tick. Loneliness and displacement, tick.

There are plenty of differences between ‘Cutting For Stone’ and ‘Bitter In the Mouth’. The writing style, the family dynamic, and the unusual, quirky voice of Linda, the narrator of the latter, however, the running themes of this list are all present in this interesting second novel by Monique Truong.

 

Similarity Match: 70%
Again, the tone of this book is different to Abraham Verghese’s novel, as, like ‘The Abundance’ it is slightly lighter and easier to read. This makes it a perfect follow up novel, as it will gently help you get over the reeling ‘is that really how it ends?’ feeling of finishing ‘Cutting For Stone’.

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‘The Abundance’ (Amit Majmudar, 2013)

Image Source: Oneworld Publications

This book is different to ‘Cutting For Stone’ in many ways. The tone is much warmer, the family closer, the subject matter lighter, and it is full of descriptions of food and cookery instead of blood and surgery. It is, however, similar in that it is a study on healing rifts and estrangements within the family.

It also features conflicts of culture, which is a theme in ‘Cutting For Stone’ and all of the books on this list.

Majmudar fills this book with sensory description and delicate, wonderful turns of phrase to linger over and savour. A wonderful book that I would recommend to anyone.

Similarity Match: 65%
Ok, so 65% isn’t a great ‘match’ compared to some other books on this list, but if you’re a reader who delights in the complexities of family relationships, then this book is a fantastic way to follow ‘Cutting For Stone’.

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If You Like ‘Cutting For Stone’ You Will Like…

If you read the books on this list and still can’t get enough family drama, you might enjoy ‘Purple Hibiscus’ and ‘White Teeth’.

‘Purple Hibiscus’ (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2003)

Image Source: TTBYL

When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, a brother and sister are sent away by their strict and religiously fanatical father, to live with their Aunt. Their new home is a world away from the one they have left, and they begin to discover laughter and love.

This book is a step away from ‘Cutting For Stone’, it is more of a ‘coming of age’ story than a dark tale of estrangements and death.  The similarity is that it still centres on the push and pull of family relationships.

It didn’t warrant a place on the main list of books like ‘Cutting For Stone’. However, despite their differences, I believe that if these two books met at a party, they would get along famously. I hope you do too.

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‘When God Was a Rabbit’ (Sarah Winman, 2011)

Image Source: Female First

So different in so many ways. If this book had a similarity rating it might be as low as 30%. It has a very modern, quirky feel to it, the narrator feels feminine and kooky, unlike the very serious, masculine feel of ‘Cutting For Stone’.

That being said, the central story is all about Elly and Joe, sister and brother. They are attached at the hip, close enough to read each other’s minds, much like Marion and Shiva in ‘Cutting For Stone’. Then one day, when they are all grown up and adult, something happens which threatens to destroy their relationship.

Very British, very different, but VERY fantastic.

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Like One of the Family

The true pleasure (and sometimes heartbreak) of reading books about complicated and divided families is that they become your family, for a time.

Some of the more plot driven books, crime, horror, fantasy, don’t focus as much on the character development, but in a book about relationships, character is everything. The author zooms right in on their every expression and idiosyncrasy. You are given a front row seat to their emotions, hopes and dreams.

Reading the books on this list is an altogether personal experience, and can sometimes leave you bereft when you turn that final page!

Have you adopted a literary family recently?

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