One of the best books I read this summer was Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. (link courtesy of Amazon.) The story concerns a nun and a doctor who go to Ethopia to work in a misson. The nun dies giving birth to twin boys--no one even knew she was pregnant so the whole mission was in a state of shock. The doctor can't handle the birth or the loss of his love and he runs from the mission, leaving the boys Shiva and Marion in the care of the remaining doctors and nuns in the mission. The story follows the boys as they grow to adulthood in the loving family of the various members of the mission.
The story is set against the backdrop of political upheaval in Ethiopia and eventually the story makes its way to the United States. The description of Ethopian countryside and the civil war juxtaposed with the medical descriptions of the hospitals makes for fascinating reading.
The reader can't be squeamish--the story gets pretty graphic in terms of medical descriptions. But as an epic story, this one ranks right up there with the best of them. It reminds me of a Michener epic, with its sweeping landscapes and generations of characters. A little more adult than a true young adult novel, I wouldn't recommend it for anyone but older, advanced readers. But I sometimes have trouble finding suitable materials for those readers, so this one fills that need.
Get this one for vacation time when you can really delve into it!