Tag Archive | Chris Bohjalian

Book #10 – The Law of Similars

by Chris Bohjalian book 10

Last week I went to the library and came out with half a dozen books chosen only because I wanted to explore more of the author’s work.  So, other than the author and title, I knew nothing about the content of my latest read, “The Law of Similars”.  I snuggled into bed, began to read, and got that really creepy deja-vu feeling.  Ironic that this book is about “similars” given how similar I felt immediately to the subject matter.  Bohjalian’s first book I reviewed, “Midwives” dealt with an off the mainstream subject to which I could not relate.  This one dealt with homeopathy, an alternative medicine approach where “like kills like”.  Exposing the body to that which is causing the illness in order to build up natural resistance.  LOVE this idea.

The main character, Leland, is a recently widowed father of a young child who during the past year has dealt with a lingering feeling of illness, although later in the book it sounds more to me like the result of stress combined with hypercondria.  After pursuing modern western medicine with no success, he ends up in the hands of the local homeopath.

We are also introduced early on to another man dealing with his chronic ailment, asthma.  That is me.  Every description of how he felt, what the pain of this breathing condition does to one’s persona, even the list of prescription meds to which he is lifelong dependent – me.  It was almost hard to read some of the material because I could easily relate to the difficulty of finding a breath in a pressure filled chest.  Grateful that Bohjalian’s coverage of his exact symptoms did not drive me into using my own inhaler 😉

I devoured this book and could not put it down.  I read for hours into the night knowing full well morning would come far too early.  Then, as happens too often, the story took a twist which was so disappointing.  I don’t want to be judgy judge; and I do not know the loneliness of widowhood, but sheesh.  Within just a few days of meeting his non-doctor doctor, Carissa, the main character is in love.  Just plain love.  And as happens when people fall in love in a minute, they end up in bed together just as quickly.  But it’s love, right.  They’ve had dinner once.  That’s love, right?

While Leland ends up feeling better and in “love”, Carissa’s other client, the asthmatic ends up in a coma.  There are possible criminal allegations and potential doom ahead for the homeopath.  Hey, did I mention Leland works for the State’s Attorney’s office?  And has access to privileged information?  And knows how to make things disappear?  First thing he made disappear was his moral code.  From this point on in the book, Bohjalian lost me.  I need to root for my main character.  He was great right until he turned into a teenage girl in lust love; destroyed evidence and became a liar.

I still read hungrily though, because I knew the ending would be one of my two guesses.  Not.  Both of my endings would have been better and more realistic than the way this book ended.

3.5/5 Stars

Book #8 – Midwives

by Chris Bohjalian Book 8

When starting a book, I normally do not read about the author until finished, and typically the author info is at the end of the book.  I don’t want a picture in my head of the writer, his Vermont farm and two fluffy dogs running free while he works.  I just want the guts of the story.  This book, “Midwives” began with the author’s page, his picture and bio.  What I mostly learned early on in the reading is that I am a sexist.  HIS picture.  The name, Chris, could go either way, but he is clearly a he.

This was the first time I have begun a book and kept shaking my head thinking, “a man wrote this????”  It just felt odd.  The story is told from the viewpoints of a very young teen girl and her Mom, a midwife.  A man wrote this????  As I struggled to get past my personal bias against male authors telling girl stories (who knew?), I also struggled in the beginning just getting into the book.  Rather than getting into the heart of the novel, HE started with more on the life of the teenager and her angst of trying to be noticed by her current crush.  There is a horse, and lots of standard girl wants you to notice me on a horse stuff.  Booooring.

I am glad I stuck with it, however, because once the lovestruck nonsense was put aside for the telling of the tale of a midwife and a birth gone wrong, it got interesting.  This is a culture to which I cannot relate, and keep in mind that I homeschooled which is a culture to which a lot of people cannot relate.  I even have a homeschool friend who delivered all three children at home, and seemed very pleased with her choice.  So in addition to my bias against male authors speaking as teen girls, I also identified early that I have a bias against home births.  I was going to say non-traditional births, but ironically, wasn’t much of our ancestry born at home, so wouldn’t that be considered the tradition???

Knowing that I had a natural inclination to agree with the side of the prosecutor (something bad happened during a delivery; you can guess), it is amazing to me that Bohjalian presented material on both sides which made sense.  I would have been a juror who honestly had no idea how to vote once in the jury room.  That is a good book.  Characters were believable and interesting, and I especially enjoyed the fact that I did not know how it would end.  Another keeper for the bookshelf.

 4.5/5 stars