Dr. Charlotte Reese works in the intensive care unit of Seattle's Beacon Hospital, tending to patients with the most life-threatening illnesses and injuries. Read more...
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Dr. Charlotte Reese works in the intensive care unit of Seattle's Beacon Hospital, tending to patients with the most life-threatening illnesses and injuries. Her job is to battle death--to monitor erratic heartbeats, worry over low oxygen levels, defend against infection and demise.
One night a Jane Doe is transferred to her care from a rural hospital on the Olympic Peninsula. This unidentified patient remains unconscious, the victim of a hit and run. As Charlotte and her team struggle to stabilize her, the police search for the driver who fled the scene.
Days pass, Jane's condition worsens, and her identity remains a mystery. As Charlotte finds herself making increasingly complicated medical decisions that will tie her forever to Jane's fate, her usual professional distance evaporates. She's plagued by questions: Who is Jane Doe? Why will no one claim her? Who should decide her fate if she doesn't regain consciousness--and when?
Perhaps most troubling, Charlotte wonders if a life locked in a coma is a life worth living.
Enlisting the help of her boyfriend, Eric, a science journalist, Charlotte impulsively sets out to uncover Jane Doe's past. But the closer they get to the truth, the more their relationship is put to the test. It is only when they open their hearts to their own feelings toward each other--and toward life itself--that Charlotte and Eric will unlock Jane Doe's shocking secret, and prepare themselves for a miracle.
Filled with intricate medical detail and set in the breathtaking Pacific Northwest, "Gemini" is a riveting and heartbreaking novel of moral com-plexity and emotional depth.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-01-06
- Reviewer: Staff
Love must endure both distance and death in the third novel from the author of Oxygen and Healer. An intensive-care doctor in Seattle grappling with her stagnant relationship and ticking biological clock, Charlotte Reese becomes engrossed in the case of a Jane Doe delivered to her hospital comatose after a highway hit-and-run. After no one comes to the hospital looking for the new patient, Charlotte take a special interest in the case, and with the help of her boyfriend, Eric Bryson, begins to dig into Jane Doe’s past. What she comes up with forces her to confront decisions both professional and personal. In chapters that alternate with those telling Charlotte’s story, readers learn about Jane Doe, who is a tough-talking farm girl named Raney, and her first love. In Cassella’s medical-drama-meets-love-story, the inevitability of death is paramount: Charlotte sees her job as “an interminable battle against the will of the universe,” Raney’s eccentric survivalist grandfather builds a bunker to prepare for TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It), and time is shown as “a grinding mudslide, shoving everything and everyone onward.” A book at turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, it invites us to accept, if nothing else, that the only way to live is to “cling to every moment even as you into the next.” Agent: David Forrer and Kimberly Witherspoon, Inkwell Management. (Mar.)
That delicate balance of living
If you’re very observant and know a little something about the wilder shores of human genetics, then you may be able to figure out the big mystery of Carol Cassella’s new novel by, oh, page 260 or so. Oh yes, the title also gives one a hint as to what’s going on with one of the book’s well-drawn characters. But we should start at the beginning.
Gemini concerns a dedicated and humane doctor, Charlotte Reese, who comes to be the physician for an anonymous woman who is medevaced in from an impoverished Washington town to Dr. Reese’s Seattle hospital in the middle of the night. The Jane Doe is apparently a hit-and-run victim. Conscious when she was first found lying in a ditch by a road, she slips into a coma on the operating table after a fat embolism breaks loose from one of her broken bones and lodges in her brain. Part of the story concerns Charlotte’s struggle over whether to keep Jane Doe alive, or to let her pass on with some kind of dignity.
The other part of the story has to do with Charlotte’s boyfriend of three years, a writer who’s working on a book about genetics. He’s one of the folks in this book whose DNA doesn’t work the way it should. Having inherited neurofibromatosis, as a child he was subject to seizures and later developed benign brain tumors—yes, more than one. Charlotte, who’s desperate to have a child, doesn’t know if Eric’s a good prospect for fatherhood, as the risk of him passing down his affliction is almost a certainty.
But there’s still the problem of Jane Doe. Surely, with the whole world interconnected, she must have family; she must have someone who misses her. Cleverly but incrementally, Cassella—a practicing physician as well as an author—puts together the pieces of Jane Doe’s mystery even as she ponders, through Charlotte, the Big Questions. What is life, anyway? Is it simply one’s genetics? Does it have a purpose? What’s the best way to find love, happiness, peace? Is Jane Doe still in there somewhere, in her ruined, swollen, already decaying body?
As for the mystery’s solution: It explains much, but that’s all you’ll learn from this review!