Friday, July 18, 2014

Gemini by Carol Cassella

Gemini, by Carol Cassella, is an engaging story that focuses around an ethical dilemma in a Seattle Intensive Care Unit. An unidentified woman has been brought from the scene of a hit and run accident to a rural hospital on the Olympic Peninsula. There, something goes terribly amiss in surgery and Jane Doe never regains consciousness. She is air-lifted to the ICU and becomes the patient of Dr. Charlotte Reese.

At this point, the reader is introduced to a parallel story - that of twelve year old Raney and Bo - the boy she befriends. Raney comes from a poor, rural family. Knowing nothing about her father and abandoned by her mother, Raney now lives with her widower grandfather. She is a fearless girl who escapes the harsh realities of her life by painting the beautiful, natural world around her.

By contrast, Bo comes from a wealthy albeit broken home. He is described as a waif-like, sickly boy whose attraction to the independent Raney is strong and immediate. Rainey comes to love him with equal intensity - a love that lasts through her twenties and beyond.

Gradually, the reader learns the relationship between these seemingly unrelated stories.

Gemini uses the genre of medical mystery to explore issues of class, genetics, family, and choice. Her characters - especially Raney - are drawn with depth and compassion. As a practicing anesthesiologist, the author shares some of the life and death issues that may confront a hospital physician.  Moreover, she allows her readers to see both the doctor's and the patient's point-of-view.

Ultimately, Cassella gives a realistic portrayal of the lack of choices faced by the working poor. What happens when family health issues bring personal ambitions for education to a stand-still? And how do individuals deal with life when forces beyond their control intervene?

Gemini explores these and many questions in a story about love, medical ethics and personal responsibility - all packaged into a well-written thriller.

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