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!Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.
Intensive care doctor Charlotte Reese is on duty in Seattle's Beacon Hospital when a hit-and-run victim, a middle-aged woman, is delivered by helicopter from Olympia Island. Charlotte expertly assesses the unconscious woman's injuries, which include a very broken body and high probability of brain damage. After stabilizing the patient, Charlotte attempts to address the multiple injuries in an effort to keep this Jane Doe alive until either she can speak for herself or some next of kin appears to identify her. Meanwhile, in Charlotte's personal life, her boyfriend Eric, a science reporter, clearly adores Charlotte but inexplicably appears unable to take their relationship forward to commitment and parenthood. Alternating chapters chronicle Charlotte's life and the story of a country girl named Raney, who falls in love with a city boy named Bo. The book prompts many questions: Who is Jane Doe? Why has no one come forward to identify her? How long can Charlotte keep this patient alive before an appointed guardian decides that it would be in the woman's best interests to let her die? How do the stories of Charlotte and Raney intersect? VERDICT Informed by her work as a doctor, Casella's third medical novel (after Oxygen and Healer) poses interesting medical questions and offers deepening mysteries to keep the reader turning the pages. [See Prepub Alert, 9/16/13.]--Sheila M. Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC[Page 61]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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.)[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC