Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Literally the Best Reviews: The Girl Without a Name

The Girl Without a Name - Sandra A. Block
Grand Central Publishing
368 Pages

Last week, I introduced Sandra Block in a review of her debut novel, Little Black Lies. This week, in preparation for her visit to the Lockport Library on April 12th, I am bringing you the review of her eagerly anticipated follow-up, The Girl Without a Name. It is not typical for me to review two books by the same author in such quick succession, but in an effort to bring more attention to the event at the library, I am breaking my own rules.

We meet Dr. Zoe Goldman for the second time in two books. She still suffers from ADHD, and makes sure to let us know as often as possible. She is still recovering from the revelations unveiled in the previous book, and the collapse of a relationship that continues to rear its ugly head. Amidst all this turmoil of Goldman struggling to maintain some semblance of sanity, a new patient is assigned to her.

A young, African-American woman is brought to the hospital after being found catatonic on the streets of Buffalo. A team of doctors work tirelessly to determine the identity of the girl. However, despite a bevy of medications, her past remains a mystery. Dr. Goldman takes it upon herself to attempt to uncover the secrets behind the mute patient.

While treating the girl, a new, handsome doctor oversees all that Goldman does in the course of her work. Tensions are still high with regard to her emotional well being after the end of the last book, and officials want to keep a close eye on her. But, is Dr. Berringer all that he seems at first glance? And who is so desperate to ensure that Jane Doe keeps her silence and their secrets safe? Goldman must traverse all the obstacles set before her and get past multiple dead ends.

Sandra Block returns on her sophomore effort with the same magic that enthralled us in Little Black Lies. Zoe Goldman is still that slightly manic hero who’s world we are firmly ensconced in while reading. Again, the outlying characters are merely placeholders that accentuate the life that is Dr. Goldman.

Just like in the first book, we are overexposed to Goldman’s ADHD diagnosis and treatment. It seems slightly subdued the second time around, but still takes up quite a bit of time in the narrative. In my opinion, after setting the stage in Little Black Lies, her affliction is already well established. There’ no need to continue to dwell on it.

Some of the scenery in this book will be readily recognizable to the Buffalo area reader. That makes it that much more readable for those of us from the area. It does make it fun to read sometimes when you know what’s being described.

Sandra Block continues to write a compelling tale of a young doctor just starting out in her career. Block’s own history in the medical profession adds credence to what she is writing. The Girl Without a Name continues the excellence put forth in her debut novel, Little Black Lies.

An added benefit to reading this novel is that you can ask the author all about it at the Lockport Library on April 12th at 6:30pm. I know I’ll be in the audience. I hope to see you there. In the meantime, find your comfy reading spot, grab the book, and enjoy.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Craig Bacon is still crazy after all these years. No need to be coy. Follow him on Twitter at @hippieboy73.

Next Week: Time & Time Again - Ben Elton