4 out of 4 stars
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McDowell by William H. Coles is October’s Book of the Month, and for the first time since joining Online Book Club, I finally get to read and review one. I am extremely glad this book peeked my interest and kept it, and I found myself very excited to come home after work and read it. I hope my review will allow you a glimpse into whether or not you think this book might be for you too.
Hiram McDowell is the protagonist, a world-renowned surgeon famous for his knowledge, and charity work. Unfortunately, on his way up the career ladder, he knocks down a few other pegs, and they become angry and vengeance-seeking. He makes a few errors in his profession that soon come to light and his opponents take advantage of it while they can. An unexpected family matter occurs, and McDowell makes a questionable decision causing him trouble with the law. Can McDowell change his self-absorbed, woe is me nature? Will he ever learn empathy and selflessness?
I loved the character developments created in this book, not only McDowell himself but also of his children and everyone he comes in contact with. This book is conveniently divided into two parts and just about every chapter is a different person point of view. I liked that it was written this way as it gives the reader insight into all the different characters’ perspectives. One of my favorite lines from this book was “Within minutes, the sun drew burning lava-glowing halos into the sky that laid spectral earthly shadows vibrant with night blue-black.” I loved this memorable line specifically because of the incredible imagery it creates when picturing a sunrise.
I feel some of the shortcomings of McDowell were that in the first couple chapters the author provides a year but very soon they stop giving us that knowledge. I occasionally found it very hard to detect the amount of time that had passed in between each event. Also on a number of occasions, the character discussions involved a hefty amount of jargon, causing some of the dialogue to be difficult to understand. I didn’t detect too many grammatical errors, and the ones I did find weren’t impeding the readability. However, there were a couple of times where the author referred to characters by the incorrect name, causing some mild confusion.
With these pros and cons in mind, I soundly rate McDowell 4 out of 4 stars. This book naturally gives the reader plenty to think about and allows them the chance to decide how they feel about Hiram McDowell. I would enthusiastically recommend this book to those anticipating a good coming of age story, and one that will deliver you plenty to think about in your own life. I think one of the best quotable lines was, “People content in themselves learn to give selflessly, without concern for personal gain, to learn the joy of being human. How many times a day do we do things for others that are really for our own pleasure and advancement?”
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