Three Mini Reviews

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Wonder by RJ Palacio

Five words from the blurb: facial, abnormality, protect, cruelty, school

Wonder was originally published as a children’s book, but it is now being marketed for adults. The story is narrated by Augie, a ten-year-old boy with a facial deformity, who is attending school for the first time. Augie has previously been home schooled, but he must now learn to live in the cruel world and try to be accepted for who he is.

If I had a magic lamp and I could have one wish, I would wish that I had a normal face that no one ever noticed at all. I would wish that I could walk down the street without people seeing me and then doing that look-away thing.

This book was fast paced and gripping, but it was obviously a children’s book. Some of the scenes were emotional, but they lacked subtlety and the moral messages were repeated too often. I found it too simple and predictable to be a satisfying adult read.

This is the perfect discussion starter for school children studying bullying, but I’d be hesitant to recommend it to adults.


The Doctor Will See You Now

The Doctor Will See You Now by Max Pemberton

Five words from the blurb: NHS, doctor, hospital, elderly, patients

Max Pemberton is an NHS hospital doctor working mainly with elderly patients, but also spending time in A&E. This book is a non-fiction account of his work; highlighting the highs and lows of his stressful job.

I really enjoyed reading this book – I found it entertaining, but also enlightening.

There are some rather unusual things that a doctor can prescribe for their patients. Years ago people used to be prescribed Guinness, and in fact, while working in surgery in my first year I twice prescribed a tot of whisky for patients. It’s very difficult to justify six years at medical school when you’re writing ‘Famous Grouse’ on someone’s drug chart.

It was packed with funny anecdotes, but also discussed the important issues facing the NHS today. I found some of the hospital policies unbelievable and am pleased that this book brought them to my attention.

Recommended to anyone who’d like to know what really goes on inside a hospital.


Lacrimosa Translated from the French by Vineet Lal

Lacrimosa by Regis Jauffret

Five words from the blurb: suicide, letters, lover, depth, soul

Lacrimosa is an epistolary novel composed of letters between Charlotte, a woman who has just committed suicide, and her lover. The book is written in the second person singular, a form that I struggle to connect with.

Dear Charlotte, You died on a sudden whim from a long illness. Suicide gushed through your brain like an oil spill and you hanged yourself. You had been living in Paris for fourteen years but on 7 June 2007 you took the train to Marseille. As if humans had the memory of an elephant and sometimes returned to dig their grave near the place where, in the past, they’d forced their way out of their mother’s womb to set foot in life.

I also had trouble with the idea of a dead person writing letters, but I persevered to the end as the book was short and strangely compelling. I finished Lacrimosa feeling depressed (as you’d expect from the subject matter), but also confused as to the point of the book – it seemed to end exactly where it started and there was no real plot to speak of.

I admit that there were some beautiful passages, but I’m afraid this didn’t make up for meandering depressive nature of the rest of the book.

Recommended to those who love the sound of an experimental book about grief.


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  1. Nomadreader says:

    I haven’t read any of these, but The Doctor Will See You Now sounds fascinating to me. I’d love to explore the similarities and differences between hospitals in different countries!

    1. Jackie says:

      Nomadreader, I’d be interested to know what someone outside the UK makes of this book. I think it is very specific to this country and can’t imagine that the policies would be that interesting to someone they don’t affect, but the funny stories will entertain anyone. I hope that you decide to give it a try.

  2. Mystica says:

    The Doctor book reminds me very much of our own health service.

    1. Jackie says:

      Mystica, Yes. I’m sure there are similarities in most cultures.

  3. I enjoyed Wonder – but although it is a worthwhile read for an adult, it is not an adult book.

    I love Pemberton’s columns in the Telegraph and enjoyed his first book Trust me I’m a Doctor. I’d like to read more of him.

  4. Alyce says:

    Wonder is one of my favorite books of the year, but I do read middle grade books with an eye toward finding quality books to recommend to my son. As long as I keep in mind the audience then I’m able to enjoy it thoroughly on that level.

  5. Kathleen says:

    Of the three I would be most interested in the second one. I won’t be able to completely relate to the NHS bit but I’m sure there are enough similarities with the healthcare system here in the US that I will connect with the writing.

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