3 out of 4 stars
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I thoroughly enjoyed Days of the Giants, by RJ Petrella, and even though it falls outside of my preferred reading area, I found nothing lacking. The author lists this as general fiction. I agree. It is an excellent choice for a broad audience. If one enjoys reading about the goings-on inside hospitals, Day of the Giants will be an excellent choice. The book has been expertly edited and is flawless in its presentation. Petrella has created believable and likable characters and woven an interesting story with a great plot, and much conflict.
Days of the Giants tells a story of credible threats to a way of life experienced at Boston City Hospital at the hands of a few unscrupulous people who would see it merged with Academy Hospital, its sister hospital. It tells the story of a Slater Barnes, who finds himself in situations requiring more from him than he believed he had to offer; and certainly more than he thought he wanted to give. There are a couple of love stories here, one of Slater Barnes and Sofia and another of Slater and his growing love of the style of medicine practiced at Boston City Hospital. Both loves are tested by the rigors of long hours required of trainee doctors, and issues arising from the merger. Finally, it is a snapshot of a young first-year resident doctor’s life in a pressure cooker of a residency program dealing with the homeless and destitute as well as working with doctors rotating in from Academy Hospital, who have very different attitudes towards medicine.
My favorite part of this book deals with the relationship between Slater Barnes and his fiancée Sofia, an obstetrics doctor trainee. When Sofia changes her choices for her upcoming residency programs at the last moment, she puts their relationship at risk. Because she and Slater have signed on as a couple, her switch automatically changes the choices Slater had set up for his preferred training hospital, Boston City Hospital. Her timing for the switch leaves him to find time in an already hectic week to re-select his desired programs. The stresses here lead to challenging and uncomfortable decisions. The challenges to their relationship are heightened by Slater’s growing love with medicine at Boston City Hospital, and his need to defend it, in absence of his best friend.
I am rating this story a strong 3 out of 4 because there are a few things in Days of the Giants that I did not care for: 1.) using two narrators: Slater Barnes and his dead father who speaks from Heaven. It simply doesn’t work for me. The two voices sound identical in almost every sense. The father is separated by phrases such as “In the year of our Lord,” when it is he who speaks. Whereas Slater is isolated by statements like “I’m dead serious,” “I’m not making this up,” or “ask anybody.” These three statements and a couple of others by Slater, are overused and detract from rather than enhance the story. 2.) The prologue caused some confusion that I could not resolve until I finished the story and went back to reread. The book would have been strengthened considerably keeping the actions there in the correct timeline. 3.) There were too many reminders of some things, for instance: multiple references to Bill Spakes’ unlikely promotion from the Sewer Department to be Commissioner of Boston City Hospital. One would have been sufficient, two enough. I stopped counting at three.
Days of the Giants
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