Isabelle uproots from her home in California to her native Mexico after the death of her sister to take over the running of the family tuna company.
She meets a niece she never knew she had - severely autistic and unable to talk - and names her Karen. The beauty of the novel comes from Karen's innocence and fragility of mind; she is a character that the reader can fall in love with, even if we occasionally laugh at her missteps in polite conversation. Approaching the subject of autism is a tricky thing to do and is not without its pitfalls - Karen is a genius in many aspects but in more social climates she falters, is brusque and sometimes offensive. Berman approaches these moments usually with light humour and Karen’s quirks quickly become a very endearing quality.
The Woman Who Dived Into the Heart of the World is an introverted novel despite taking in various glamorous locations around the world. For all its outlandish façade the story is small, shy and delicate; Berman expertly picks apart society and our attitudes towards the food we eat and the price we put on the wildlife of our planet. Her experience as a playwright makes itself known through sharp and clipped dialogue in the narrative. It is a charming read and one that is uplifting and full of hope.