Book Review: Bedside Manners by Heather Frimmer

Bedside Manners

Author: Heather Frimmer

Publication Date: 16 October 2018

Genre: Adult Fiction – Contemporary, Women’s Fiction

Pages: 320

Publisher: SparkPress

As Joyce Novak’s daughter, Marnie, completes medical school and looks ahead to a surgical internship, her wedding, and a future filled with promise, a breast cancer diagnosis throws Joyce’s own future into doubt. Always the caregiver, Joyce feels uncomfortable in the patient role, especially with her husband and daughter. As she progresses through a daunting treatment regimen including a biopsy, lumpectomy, and radiation, she distracts herself by planning Marnie’s wedding.

When the sudden death of a young heroin addict in Marnie’s care forces Marnie to come face-to-face with mortality and her professional inadequacies, she also realizes she must strike a new balance between her identity as a doctor and her role as a supportive daughter. At the same time, she struggles with the stark differences between her fiancé’s family background and her own and comes to understand the importance of being with someone who shares her values and experiences.

Amid this profound soul-searching, both Joyce and Marnie’s futures change in ways they never would have expected.

Have you ever read an opening chapter that describes something so vividly that it invokes a gag reflex? When Marnie describes having to change a colostomy bag, my god, the memories from my time as a technician in the cardiac unit came flooding back. Marnie explains how the sight of bodily fluids and rotting flesh never bothers her. It’s always the smells. I wholeheartedly agreed with all of it to the point that I definitely gagged while reading that scene. I think that situation perfectly describes the illustrative and beautiful writing that Heather Frimmer has poured into Bedside Manners .

Fimmer pens an incredibly emotional mother daughter tale where two women are battling different life struggles. Marnie is finishing up medical school as well as trying to plan a wedding. She’s unsure if she can be a great doctor that also maintains her humanity. Additionally, Marnie keeps trying to impress her pretentious in-laws to the point that it begins to drive a wedge between her and her fiance. Joyce recently found a lump in breast, but she can’t seem to find the right time to tell her daughter Marnie about her health situation since she doesn’t want to spoil the upcoming graduation and wedding. Joyce refuses to let her therapy impede her husband’s dental practice or her daughter’s life, so she’s determined to face it all alone.

is the perfect story of how life’s complications arise during the most stressful and untimely moments and reminds us of the importance of not shouldering burdens alone and turning towards our loved ones.

Thank you to Suzy Approved Book Tours for having me on the tour. Thank you to She Writes Press and the author for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

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