Review – Open Heart by Gregory D. Williams

Posted January 2, 2021 by Carole in Book Reviews / 12 Comments

Open Heart by Gregory D. Williams
Publisher: Grand Canyon Press
Publication Date: January 14, 2021
Date Read: December 31, 2020
Length: 418 pages
Source: Publisher via Bookish First

Life is fleeting. Love is a gift.

In this coming of age novel set in the 1970s, Gene Hull is whitewashing the trunks of Arizona citrus trees when he spots a beautiful girl and falls instantly in love. The girl is vulnerable and shy. Though Gene breaks through her reserve, a date at a wave park turns into a near disaster, and Gene must call on the one person he can always rely on—his doctor father.

Although the girl survives and Gene wins her over, what will happen when they leave for college? Is she truly “the one,” or will distance drive them apart?

When a freak accident blows a hole in Gene’s freshman year, his grades tank, and he bobbles the ball with the love of his life. She’s gone forever. Not only that, but he’ll never get into med school on grades alone.

Hoping to improve his chances of admission, he spends the summer trailing a famous heart surgeon. But can Gene, determined to live up to his father’s legacy, turn his summer in the “Heart Room”—an operating theater of chilling cold, bone saws, and macabre humor—into an experience that would make his father proud? Will he ever love again?

 My Review
I really liked this book!  I have to admit that while I thought this book sounded interesting from the start, I was only mildly interested in it.  Once I had a copy in my possession, I decided to give it a try and I ended up reading the entire book cover to cover in a single day.  I was drawn into this story as soon as I started reading and it captured my attention until I turned the last page.  I am so glad that I took a chance on this book.
This book falls into several genres.  It is a coming of age story, a historical fiction tale since it is set in the 1970s, and a medical drama because a large portion of the book takes place in the operating room.  I loved the fact that not only was this book was able to do so many things but that it did them well.   I am not sure that all readers will enjoy the detailed surgery scenes in this book since they are a little graphic but I loved them.  Of course, I have also been known to watch surgeries on television as a form of entertainment.  
Gene is a young man living in 1970s Arizona.  He meets a girl at the start of the story and wants to get to know her better.  When they are on their first date together,  she has an emergency and Gene calls his father, who is a doctor, to come help.  Patty ends up needing surgery and Gene is there for her every step of the way.  When Gene is in college, he knows his grades may not be enough to get him into medical school so he spends his summer following a heart surgeon and his team at the hospital in hopes of getting a recommendation. 
We really watch Gene grow up in this book.  There were some times in this book that I wanted to look away because I knew Gene was about to do something that was not going to work out well.  I love it when a book can make a character feel so real that it is almost painful to watch their life implode.  This book does deal with a lot of tough issues and Gene learns a lot of lessons in these pages.  I am just glad that I was able to go on this journey with him.
I would recommend this book to others.  I found this to be a well-written story and I loved the medical aspect of the story.  I think that Gregory D. Williams crafted a very entertaining story and I was saddened to learn that he passed away in 2020 before the publication of this book.

I received an advanced review copy of this book from Grand Canyon Press.

About the Author

Gregory D. Williams, MD, was the winner of Georgia College’s 2010 Arts & Letters fiction prize. His fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in Blue Mesa Review, Elysian Fields, American Fiction, Bosque, and the Journal of the American Medical Association. A graduate of Stanford University and the University of Arizona Medical School, he spent his teenage summers following baseball and whitewashing the trunks of citrus trees. When he was actively practicing medicine, Dr. Williams’ specialty was anesthesiology, and he was the son of an anesthesiologist.

Greg Williams began writing after his father’s death. He approached writing with the same dedication that he devoted to his other interests: fly fishing, photography, guitar, and home automation. The father of four and married to his high school sweetheart, Dr. Williams passed away in 2020.

Open Heart is his legacy.

12 responses to “Review – Open Heart by Gregory D. Williams

  1. This isn't the sort of book I read very often. It's life fiction with a male main character really. I don't read the female main character ones very often either but sometimes. I'm glad you really enjoyed it.

    Anne – Books of My Heart

  2. Honestly I'm not sure this one would have grabbed me at all but your review definitely intrigued me. I'll have to look for it! Love when a book grabs me from beginning to end.