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October 24, 2018

Bedside Manners by Heather Frimmer ~ a Review

by MK French

Joyce Novak has a lot of positive things in her life, including her daughter Marnie's upcoming wedding and start to her medical career. She soon receives the news that she has breast cancer, and the treatments put her in the role of patient rather than caregiver. This makes her uncomfortable, so she tries to focus more on Marnie's wedding planning. Marnie, in the meantime, starts to see the realities of being a doctor, and has to balance the different roles in her life as well. Both mother and daughter have a lot of changes to make in their lives.

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Bedside Manners
October 2018; SparkPress; 978-1943006687
ebook, print (320 pages)
women's fiction, medical
The novel starts slowly, with Marnie in her fourth year of medical school before her surgical internship year, and Joyce trying to dismiss symptoms and go through her day to day routines. As she accepts the diagnosis and seeks treatment, we see different responses to the diagnosis in the form of her fellow support group members. Joyce meets a number of people through the group as well as while planning out details for her daughter's wedding and even members of her book club. Joyce doesn't feel the same as before after her diagnosis, and she does start differentiating herself as an individual, not just as a caregiver for the Novak family.

Marnie threw herself into her medical school training, and the doctors she worked with her were fairly encouraging of her learning process. Most fourth-year students wouldn't be primary in a surgery or be called Doctor, after all. The patient she had helped care for all throughout her surgical rotation died while she was on her dermatology rotation, but she was in the ER when the code was called. Marnie was the one to deliver the bad news, which is something else that usually the fourth year medical students don't normally do. Marnie had requested the duty, however, and she did have that connection validated. It's certainly a heartening part of medicine, and one that Marnie also feels.

The release of this novel is timed to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This book clearly outlines the process Joyce goes through, as well as the range of emotional responses in others and in family members. The main focus is on her journey with breast cancer, but we do see Marnie's struggles as a medical student and intern. I feel like her emotional journey with her fiance is not given as much focus as a result of Joyce's journey; I'm not sure if this is a deliberate choice to make the close a bit of a surprise, or if Marnie's life choices are meant to be less of a focus than Joyce's. While Joyce's experiences are "easy" in comparison to others in her support group, she is very much a survivor, and seeing her go through her journey will also give readers hope.

Buy Bedside Manners at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

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