Author: Carol Cassella
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Charlotte is a doctor at an intensive care unit in one of the best hospitals in Seattle, and she is on duty when a Jane Doe is brought in: the woman was a victim of a hit and run and is in very bad shape. Though Charlotte knows it’s unlikely this woman will ever wake up, she becomes emotionally invested in the case. Alongside Charlotte’s story is that of Raney, a young woman living with her grandfather who dreams of bigger things than her small life in a small town.
A thoughtful novel about family and genetics, Gemini features well-written characters and an emotional narrative. Though some of the twists and turns stray into the territory of the unbelievable, it’s still a powerful read that will linger long after the last pages are turned.
Gemini is a well-written novel with two very different women, Charlotte and Raney, at its center. Charlotte is a no-nonsense doctor, smart and confident in her professional life, but insecure in her personal life. She loves her boyfriend, Eric, but isn’t quite sure about her place in the world, especially because Eric won’t fully commit to her because of a rare genetic disorder he has. It’s clear that Charlotte pours out her confusion and anger at her personal life into her work, which is how she becomes so attached to her Jane Doe. Jane is a fighter, much as Charlotte is.
Raney had a much different upbringing than Charlotte in Gemini. While Charlotte is from a well-to-do family of doctors, Raney was raised by her grandfather in a small, poor town. Unlike Charlotte, who we only know as an adult, the reader gets to see Raney as a young girl, growing up, seeing the innocent she was and what she has become. Cassella does an incredible job with her characters, fleshing them out; much like Charlotte and Jane, the reader becomes emotionally connected to them. They want the best for both Charlotte and Raney, but as the connection between the two stories becomes increasingly clear, they fear for the worst.
There are many twists and turns in Gemini; though it’s a thoughtful, contemplative novel, it’s also a fast-paced one. Readers will ponder the many connections between all the characters as they are forced to think about difficult issues that Cassella raises. Through Charlotte, the author discusses the difficulty of ICU care; it’s fascinating to receive a glimpse into what physicians actually go through in the ER, but as Jane Doe’s survival odds diminish, who makes the decisions for her? What is her life worth in terms of machine operating costs? There are no easy answers here.
As Gemini progresses, it gets a bit melodramatic; the end twists are a difficult to believe, a one in a million chance, and it might not sit well with some readers, as it’s such a serious book. However, despite these issues, Gemini remains a well-written and thought-provoking novel with amazingly written characters. And by the time you get to these eyebrow-raising twists, you’re so invested in the book as a whole that it’s easy to suspend disbelief and just hope that these characters will find some happiness and peace.