Kira Salak's "The White Mary" is a gripping first novel about one woman's journey to the end of the earth--otherwise known as Paupa New Guinea--and back. Salak's heroine, Marika, goes to PNG looking for the famous war reporter Robert Lewis. A war reporter herself, Marika goes into the jungle expecting an adventure, but instead undergoes a near death experience that changes her life. The novel flashes back and forth between Marika's time in PNG and her life in Boston before her trip, slowly exposing the heroine's demons to the reader. When Marika is forced to face who she really is in the depths of the jungle, the reader is pulled along through her emotional journey.
I think Salak's novel is so gripping because the author herself is a war reporter, and many of Marika and Lewis' experiences are based on things the author experienced. When she describes the jungles of PNG or the African plains, you feel like you are really there. This realism does warrant a warning though--some passages of Salak's novel are graphically violent, so sensitive readers should beware.
I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a story about a strong woman, or a story of a woman finding herself. This is very much a modern "Heart of Darkness" so be ready!