Score: 90/100 (9.0 out of 10)
Hold up. Wait a minute. Somethin' ain't right.
This book is one of those books we might categorize as a “beautiful disaster” or a “beautiful mess.” It's really a mixed bag.
First, we LOVED the romantic aspect of this book, especially as it pertains to the will-they/won't-they relationship between Rosemary and John. We also loved that characters are allowed to show off all three-dimensions of their lives and personalities. Ida in particular is more than just someone who loves someone, she is a complete person with her own dreams, ambitions, passions, hobbies, a pet, and an extraordinary career. She's an accomplished swimmer, and she's clearly passionate about athletics and fitness in addition to her love for medicine/healthcare.
Next, there are some VERY powerful and emotional moments in this book. This is one of those stories, like a South Korean sitcom, that is designed from the bottom-up to get into your heart and squeeze it until the waterworks (tears) come out.
Unfortunately, some of the impact of those moments is dulled down by them happening in quick succession of one another (in machine-gun fashion). There is a segment in this book when you feel a character is dying about eight times in a row and in eight different ways. After the third time, it was already getting old and overdone. That's a bit of an exaggeration, but that's what it felt like to us. It almost became humorous, kinda like Kenny from South Park (the character who dies in almost every episode, always in a different way, and never with any real consequence).
So, that's the thing: we think this book is supposed to be a romantic-drama of some sort, but it made us feel like we were reading a romantic-comedy at times. There's just something about it that just made us laugh. It's not that the book is bad, it's that aspects of this book seem like a mishmash of segments of other stories that don't entirely fit together. It had us going, “Oh, my gosh, really?!” and “What is even happening right now?”
What genre is this supposed to be? Like we said, we think it was supposed to be a romance novel or a drama. However, it has aspects of it that read like a mystery. Then again, there are aspects of it that read like a lost pet novel. How many times does Bongo or Echo go missing and magically reappear at a dramatically convenient time? So... is this a heroic pet story (i.e. Lassie, Flipper)?
Then again, there are aspects of it that read like a sports story about a girl who picks up swimming competitively after almost drowning in an accident. Then again, there are aspects of it that read like a medical thriller about a woman who pursues a medical career after almost dying in an accident. Then again, there are aspects of it that read like a missing person story about some girl trying to find some guy who disappeared after saving her from almost dying in an accident.
Then again, there are aspects of it that read like a pseudo-superhero/action-hero story about a guy who spontaneously shows up and saves people, then vanishes, flying off to his bat cave or his fortress of solitude. Seriously, John just shows up constantly, saving people from drowning, fires, and seizures. So... he is a superhero, isn't he? He acts like Superman in the video game Superman Returns, just wandering Metropolis looking for random things to do, random people to fight, and random people to save. It's almost comedic how he just warps places (and seemingly across timelines) and magically knows how to save anyone and fix anything (except for maybe himself... cue Darth Plaguis).
Then again, there are aspects of this book that read like a family drama about a guy helping to support his older sister with down syndrome. Then again, there are aspects of it that read like the story of a guy who is perpetually dying or almost dying from something new every 30 pages.
Or is this the story of a guy at all?
Whose story is this supposed to be?
Ida, to us, seems like the main character. She is the one doing just about everything in the first half of this book. We get to see her become a swimming prodigy. We get to see her treat about a dozen patients inside (and outside) her hospital. Something about that was... off. We constantly get random scenes in which Ida and John save random people, the damsel-of-the-day.
Are we ever going to see Kyle again? Are we ever going to see the random homeless woman Ida gave the shoes to again? Are we just supposed to believe that these random acts of saving people are inspired by John randomly saving her? Why add all of these random, unrelated scenes to show how grand and compassionate a person Ida is rather than just stick to one?
That might be our main complaint with this novel: it builds up a Mary Sue and a Gary Stu—these unbelievably perfect, superhero-like people akin to Wonder Woman and Superman. Heck, Wonder Woman and Superman are probably more flawed than Ida and John Murphy!
Ida is the perfect woman. She is beautiful (everyone says so, and even the random waiter is distracted by it). She is unbelievably athletic. People constantly talk about how good and fast a swimmer she is. She is unbelievably smart, being the valedictorian of her class and scoring just about perfectly on her final exam TWICE (written and oral).
John is the perfect man. He is dashingly handsome, so much so that he seems to have the interest of every woman he comes upon. (By the way, why does Susan even exist as a character? To show how much better a match/person Ida is than her because Ida isn't divorced and doesn't look down on Maggie's disability? How many people have to be thrown under the bus just to highlight how perfect Ida is?)
He is incredibly athletic, set to compete in a marathon and being an accomplished swimmer in grade school. He is a literal BOY SCOUT, and not just any boy scout, but a straight-up EAGLE SCOUT—the highest achievable rank in the Boy Scouts of America! Geez Luiz, just give him angel wings and a halo already!
But wait, there's more! He LOVES animals and shares an incredibly close, almost-psychic bond with his brown Labrador. But wait, there's more! He's compassionate toward the disabled and patiently cares for his disabled older sister, Maggie, in whom he instills a love for reading (symbolized by the green glass bookmark that gives the book its name).
But wait, there's more! He's a medical/scientific genius who can identify problems that other doctors who actually went to medical school can't, then come up with solutions that practically always work for some reason. And everyone listens to him for some reason. They even let him into the operating room to aid with life-saving procedures and to act as a pseudo-advisor... for some reason. Ok, maybe cause he's pretty much always right... for some reason. And we basically get a whole speech about how he'd make the most perfect doctor ever and how he answered the one question that no student had ever answered in medical school.
We're so tempted to put “for some reason” at the end of that last sentence, but that would be too easy. You get the point.
These two characters are cloying in just how perfect they are.
What's incredible is that it's not even the romantic relationship between Ida and John that won our hearts, it was the relationship between John and Rosemary.
Their chemistry just seems so much more organic for some reason than John and Ida, perhaps because John and Ida seem to be gender-swapped, interchangeable versions of one another. In fact, we almost wondered if John was Ida from an alternate universe and this was like a sci-fi novel all of a sudden. We also wondered if Ida might be John or vice-versa and if one of them might be transgender... from an alternate universe or something. That's how identical these two seemed to be. They almost blur and blend into each other.
Something just feels... off and wonky. It's very difficult to describe, but we've tried. This book just seems like too many great ideas that got blended together. It's like putting tuna or raisins in your fruit smoothie. Tuna on its own is incredibly healthy and some even love the taste of it, but mixing it with twelve other things just ruins it and the other things.
It's ironic that we just read a book that had a very similar problem and also dealt with in-hospital work. The book was titled Grave Intervention by Shira Shiloah, and for some reason it featured so many description of the main character, Dr. Amir Hadad, performing his random, everyday doctor duties, complete with in-depth descriptions of medical procedures and medical jargon. Ok, you authors are both very intelligent and did your homework, but there is a plot buried somewhere in here, right? Keep in mind that Grave Intervention is a paranormal HORROR STORY that just so happens to be fixated on an MD doing everyday MD things.
It reminds us of those parts from Moby Dick when Melville feels the need to describe every single little minute detail about whaling, whale boats, and whaling equipment. Like, Herman, we just want the dang monster captain to fight the dang monster whale! Is that too much to ask?!
Anyway, we're just sharing our feelings and opinions. This book definitely has SOMETHING. There is extraordinary stuff in here, things that made us feel emotions. Things that compelled us. Things that inspired us. The thing is, they're blended in here with so much cotton candy and fluff that it sorta got lost on us.
We still think you should check it out and give it a chance!
Check it out on Amazon!