Book Review: Where the Light Enters by Sara Donati @akaSaraDonati @penguinrandom

Where the Light Enters
The Waverly Place Series #2
Sara Donati
Berkley, September 2019
ISBN 978-0-425-27182-7
Hardcover

Where the Light Enters is a massive 672 page book that starts off in an epistolary fashion as Dr. Sophie Savard waits for her husband, Cap Verhoeven, who is afflicted with tuberculosis, to die. They are in Switzerland in an attempt to prolong his life, but when that proves to be in vain, Sophie, and Pip, her little dog, return home to New York. The year is 1884 and, although I believe Sophie’s history with Cap is detailed in a previous novel, that Cap was part of the wealthy New York society clique and married to a mulatto physician is an integral part of the plot.

Sophie tries to make her way both as a physician, a wealthy widow in high society, and a part of a large integrated family from all sorts of backgrounds. She also becomes, with her cousin Anna, another physician, involved in a horrific act of crime. Anna is married to a police detective who is charged with finding a murderer who’s method of killing is especially cruel. It seems the killer is an abortionist who uses expertise in surgery to murder the victims. Who better to help identify such a person than a couple of women doctors?

But don’t read this story as a mystery. It really isn’t. Very soon we can make a good guess at the killer. Even that seems almost incidental as the book could also be identified as a psychological morality story. Or simply a historical detailing not only the prevailing attitude toward women doctors, especially one of color, but of the fashions and mores of the time. And possibly, given the familial aspects, a feel good tale of love and acceptance.

Something for every reader, melded together in the best possible way. The details are wonderfully compelling and you may just find yourself immersed in the historical period.

If I had a problem with the story, it’s that a great many characters were introduced from the first and, although maybe it was just me, I did have a bit of trouble keeping them separate.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, September 2019.
www.ckcrigger.com
Author of The Woman Who Built A Bridge (Spur Award Winner), Yester’s Ride
and Five Days, Five Dead: A China Bohannon Novel

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a WallflowerThe Perks of Being a Wallflower
Stephen Chbosky
MTV Books, August 2012
ISBN 9781451696196
Trade Paperback

 

This book was recommended to me by one of my high-school students.  I’m glad she made the recommendation; I am completely smitten with Charlie, in a big sister kind of way.  Sadly, I think I was missing the point.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is told by Charlie, a high school freshman, via letters to “Dear Friend”. We quickly learn that he doesn’t feel the need to “fit in”; however, it wouldn’t be accurate to say that he is comfortable in his own skin.  “Wallflower” is definitely the most apt description. Although not necessarily content with it, he generally watches life happen.  When he does act, or more fairly, react, I wanted to cheer, to pat him on the back and say “there, you see, you CAN do it”.  This is not what Charlie needs to hear.

Throughout the freshman year letters, there are certainly allusions to Charlie having issues–more so than the typical teen.  I tried to diagnose.  Depression?  Too simple.  Asperberger’s Disorder?  Yeah, probably not.  I really didn’t expect a revelation, and I most certainly did not expect the issue that was revealed towards the end of the book.  I felt a bit guilty.  I almost want to read it again now, as if under a brighter light.  I won’t, it would feel like cheating.  I’ll just say that Mr. Chbosky created a lovable character, one that spans the generations—loved equally by my 15-year old student and me (a not-so-young adult).

Reviewed by jv poore, November 2012.