Synopses & Reviews
Alvarez's resplendent new novel takes us into the worlds of two women swept up in campaigns against the scourges of their day. Alma Huebner, a Latin American novelist transplanted to the United States, is writing another of her bestselling family sagas. Her husband works for a humanitarian organization dedicated to health and prosperity in third world countries. He wants her to go with him, but she demurs. She must finish her newest novel. In truth, Alma is sidetracked by the story of a much earlier idealist, Francisco Xavier Balmis, who in 1803 undertook to vaccinate the populations of Spain's American colonies against smallpox. To do this, he needed living "carriers" of the vaccine. Enter Isabel Sendales y Gomez, the rectoress of La Casa de Ninos Expositos. Isabel selects twenty-two orphan boys to be the carriers and joins them on the voyage. Her bravery inspires a very different novel from Alma. A brilliant novel-within-a-novel, Saving the World pits ambition against altruism and, in the process, tells the radiant stories of two courageous women.
A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award with In the Time of Butterflies, author Julia Alvarez is a beloved voice in modern fiction and poetry. In Saving the World, she weaves the stories of two courageous women-separated by two centuries-into a breathtaking novel of love and idealism in an increasingly troubled world. A best-selling, Latin-American author living in Vermont, Alma stays behind when her husband travels to the Dominican Republic to help fight AIDS. She needs the time to work on her latest book, but she has terrible writer's block. Soon, her focus is diverted to an entirely new story, that of the early 19th-century anti-smallpox expedition of Dr. Francisco Balmis. Accompanying Dr. Balmis was DoNa Isabel, who cared for the orphan boys serving as living carriers of the smallpox vaccine. It is the narrative of the courageous DoNa Isabel that provides hope and inspiration when Alma's husband is taken captive. Mesmerizing and poetic, Saving the World is a visionary tale that raises profound questions about the world we live in-and whether or not it is beyond redemption.