I think it was the fact that this this is the author of Braveheart which made me approach this book the wrong way. I expected a compelling, fast-paced story from the get-go. It took me while to realize this was a different story. Once I decided to let this story stand alone and allowed it to lead me gently through the storyline it was telling, I was captivated. I love Appalachia and the setting of this expert high-tech doctor in this back-woods poor country was intriguing and a great way to develop the tension. I didn't get the twist and won't give that jewel away in this review. Safe it to say, this is a story worth reading. But read it for the story it is...a story with a pace and message all its own.
The Touch by Randall Wallace. What a great book. This book is about a surgeon who has wonderful God given talent but is dealing with the loss of his fiance. It also is about a woman at the forefront of medical research. How their lives intersect and what unfolds is wonderful. Sometimes this book moves a little slowly but the author paints the scenery of Applachia beautifully.
Doctor Andrew loses a loved one and refuses to do surgery again. Lara owns a research company that is developing a surgical tool and needs a surgeon to test the tool. When she hears about Andrew's surgical skill, she wants to work with him at her company, but he refuses.
I thought this book was interesting. Medical research has come quite far in recent years, and this book shows how one tool can help save lives.
I really enjoyed the book more than I thought I would. Throughout the novel it was hard to actually get inside the head of Andrew Jones (or Jones, as his colleagues call him) Faith Thomas or Lara (Laura without the u) Blair. So why did I like it in spite of that fact? Or why did I not really connect with them? All three of these characters were wrapped up in their professions as doctors, Lara being a researcher. They were well developed, but I seemed to miss that part that brought them into my life for me.
The story line was well written, and flowed rather like a river, but I am thinking that it could have had more depth, and the suspense could have been more developed. Actually, on second thought, perhaps it just was that it is a short story, easily read in an afternoon. As that, it was clearly a great little book.
Having said that, I am not criticizing the author or the editors...and the surprises were there. Randall clearly shows "The Touch" from the time Jones and Faith see the painting by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel until the end of the novel. It is understood that The Touch is the touch of God's hand to man's hand, as the artist portrayed it. Both Jones and Lara grow from being rather reclusive and selfish to learning more about God's great love and plan for them.
I will definitely be telling others about Randall Wallace and The Touch, and will be looking for more novels by him.
The opinions stated in this review are my own, and this is an honest review.
Dr. Andrew Jones has incredibly skilled hands, able to surgically operate on the most inaccessible areas of the human brain. After traumatically losing his fiancee in a car accident, he finds himself unable to perform any sort of surgery and relegates himself to teaching other young doctors.
Dr. Lara Blair is the heir to a Biomedical Research company. Extremely driven, intelligent, and skilled, her life revolves around the research she is doing and the donations she gives through the company's foundation. Dr. Blair discovers that Dr. Jones has a skill for brain surgery beyond what she is capable of, and decides to convince him to participate in her life saving research.
I carelessly picked up and finished this book before bothering to read the inside cover flaps. My initial impression that this book would make a great movie was entirely validated when I discovered that this is by the same author who wrote the script and novelization of the Mel Gibson film Braveheart. This book has nothing to do with that film, but the polished character descriptions, well rounded plot lines, story pacing, and portions of the narrative denote a writer with a lot of practice pleasing people. It is a nearly flawless presentation.
The flaws begin to surface when examined from a spiritual perspective. The statement repeated throughout the book "All we need to know is that God exists and He loves us" does not exactly ring true. What about our sinful condition and our need for the salvation which can only be found at the cross? Also, a scene depicting the removal of a brain dead patient from life support seemed inappropriately handled. Many Christians have convictions regarding this subject, and the way the author added it to the story without having the incidence either further plot line or character development made it seem as though he seized a quiet opportunity to promote his own opinions without giving the reader any of the supporting arguments. In the end - despite scenes in churches, praying, offering anonymous acts of love - the book felt like a 'clean' read with some Christian flavor thrown in.
Finally, this book feels slightly rushed. The reader is often jumped from scene to scene without any time to let the emotional impact of what is happening unfold. The writer employs some literary techniques such as naming the fiancee Faith (Dr. Jones' faith has died) and having Dr. Blair leave her large office building to do free medical work in the Virginia countryside (coming down from an 'ivory tower') but doesn't allow them to color the story. Jones has a lot of faith in other people, and often portrays something approaching hope for others as well. Blair finds fulfillment, not a fundamental change, in dealing with the real world. By making the emotions motivating the characters already present instead of allowing them to wax and wane, the author sacrifices some reader buy-in for clarity. And by failing to allow his own metaphors and plot devices to spin out with the rhythm the story seemed to have established, he sacrifices possible depth to maintain novella length.
The ultimate messages that pain and suffering can be healed with love, and that life has purpose and meaning resonate deeply with me. Unfortunately, I don't feel this book dealt with them on a deep enough level to leave any sort of lasting impression beyond that of a pleasant, well written read on your evening in.