I read Saving the World by Julia Alvarez [Algonquin, Apr.] on the way to work and kept praying for the bus to break down so I would have more time with this amazing book. Alvarez weaves together two stories: Alma is a middle-aged novelist with writer's block whose husband is involved in an effort to build a health clinic in the Dominican Republic. The concurrent story follows her obsessive research for her book on the Balmis expedition, which set out 200 years ago to bring the cure for smallpox to the New World. Alvarez does a terrific job shifting between those worlds and Alma's sort of angst-ridden life in her rural New England community. I can't wait to share it with my book group because it brings to mind Chris Bohjalian's Midwives, Ann Patchett's Bel Canto and Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains, which all made for really great discussions. There is so much to think about and talk about in this book!