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Orphan #8 : a novel
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[DEBUT] In van Alkemade's fiction debut, which was inspired by her family history, a hospice nurse confronts her childhood trauma when she must care for the woman who caused her disfigurement. After a series of illnesses in 1919, the four-year-old orphaned Rachel becomes the subject of questionable medical experiments performed by Dr. Mildred Solomon. These tests leave Rachel with permanent alopecia, making her the object of various cruelties and isolation. Years later, an adult Rachel works at Manhattan's Old Hebrews Home, and none other than Dr. Solomon comes in as her patient. Verdict The story of how Rachel gains agency-psychologically, bodily, and romantically-never feels forced. This is not a plucky orphan narrative; ingrained years of submissive behavior often make it hard for Rachel to get out of her own way. Though van Alkemade defaults to telling rather than showing, Rachel's moments of courage still feel earned. Her burgeoning feelings for another girl at the home are treated with depth and help the story stand out from others. The premise and lesbian representation make this a solid recommendation for fans of Jodi Picoult and Sarah Waters.-Liza Oldham, Beverly, MA © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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