This is the first of two reviews today. Scroll down or click here to learn how you can win a wonderful personalized children’s book.
Medical thrillers are one of the most popular types of stories these days–just look at the number of programs in the TV listings. Informed Consent by Sandra Glahn is a novel that deals with medical research and ethics, and an unexplained serious condition that kept me turning pages to see how it was going to resolve.
Jeremy Cramer is a doctor and researcher who is driven by the untimely death of his father years before to try and help others avoid the same fate. Now he is a father of two and is so devoted to his work that his wife and children suffer. He is dealing with the guilt of his absence along with his role in the death of his infant son while beginning to experience real headway in the trials of a new treatment for AIDS patients (and one of them is a nurse who was infected accidentally by a needle stick in the line of work). Will he redeem himself? Will he find balance and peace? Most novels explore a character’s discovery of these types of issues, and in a Christian novel there is often a spiritual element as well. This type of self-examination is very difficult to write without seeming overly preachy (which often detracts from the plot), or too contrived. Glahn’s approach is refreshing. There is one character whose faith is a definite part of her personality, and another character does a bit of spiritual soul-searching. Similar to real-life experiences, the story is subtle concerning this plot element. Whereas in some novels a change such as that is the plot, in this one it is not so it would have interfered with the resolution of the plot. This book is rated G for no cursing or adult situations, which is a standard I expect from Christian-published fiction.
Reading the first part of the book, I felt a little bit like I feel on the rare occasions when I catch an episode of ER: Who is that doctor? Whose wife is that? How do those two know each other? There were a lot of characters being developed at the same time. However, by the time I was halfway into the book, I understood each character, a little bit of his or her past, and how he or she fit into the story as a whole. Sandra Glahn managed to bring each character to life with real details that stick with me. By the end, I felt as if I really knew these people, not just as characters.
The book contains a discussion guide. Since this story does delve into some of the ethical issues of medicine, it would make for a nice discussion in a book group or among friends. An interesting feature in this appendix is that the main character, Angela Cramer, interviews the author. It’s sort of like the extras on a DVD and was a neat way to extend the experience of the book (just don’t read it first, because there are spoilers). She asks Sandra Glahn what she hopes readers will gain from this book:
What does every fiction writer want? I want to so engross readers that the laundry waits, the bills go unpaid, and they bite their own nails off. I hop readers will feel they’ve enjoyed the story and in the process thought about bigger issues confronting us on this fragile planet. I guess it’s a form of edutainment.
The medical research was thorough, and it showed. The glimpses of life in a research lab or in a children’s wing of the hospital rang true. If you are a fan of doctor or forensic shows, I think that you would definitely enjoy this book.
The author has donated a copy of Informed Consent that can ship to the U.S. or Canada. If you would like to win, leave a comment. You can also check out Sandra Glahn’s blog, Aspire2 for thinking that transforms.
Congratulations to last week’s winners of the Bethany House products: