Verdant, Adventurous Washington: Gemini, Carol Cassella


Simon & Schuster, 2014

ISBN 1451627939 (ISBN13: 9781451627930)

Part of the Mysteries from Every State Reading Challenge

UntitledAn unidentified woman has been the victim of a hit-and-run, and as the hospital begins to take steps to make important decisions on her behalf, Charlotte, her doctor, feels that she needs to find out who the woman is and why she ended up in her ICU.

As Charlotte tries to find out what happened to her patient, she begins to get caught up in Jane Doe’s story and in trying to find out what happened to her. Charlotte cannot understand how, in the small community where the accident occurred, nobody came forward to help identify her patient.

As Jane and Charlotte’s stories unfold, Cassella explores questions regarding the relationship between doctor and patient, as well as the struggle a doctor must go through in order not to get emotionally attached to a patient. She also questions whether this emotional detachment is necessarily always a good thing.

The novel also tells the story of Raney and Bo and how the innocence of a childhood friendship and romance can be torn apart when people come from different backgrounds. However, it also shows how the openness and bonding that can only come from a shared childhood can endure and make some attachments more durable than we think.

This was a great book for the Mysteries from Every State Reading Challenge, taking place in Seattle, where Charlotte and Eric live, and Quentin, where Raney and Bo grew up. The beauty and abundance of the landscape shapes Raney’s character as well as her relationship with Bo, as they grow up playing in the caves, beaches and tide pools around Quentin.

The book also deals with the subject of death and mortality. Every character in the novel struggles with the question of death in their personal way. As Jane Doe languishes in the ICU, the novel personifies the issues that many families and caretakers deal with when a loved one is brain dead but still technically alive.

It also deals with duality, hence the title. It appears that every character in the book has a double or twin. Additionally, it deals with unfulfilled dreams and aspirations, and how different people deal with realizing that life doesn’t always turn out the way we want or plan.

I also liked Raney’s relationship with her grandfather, who was her primary caretaker throughout her life. While her grandfather had a rough exterior, Raney never doubted his love and appreciated his teaching her self-reliance, which would serve Raney well throughout her life.

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