Alice & Oliver, by Charles Bock: Book Review

If you’re looking for a book that will make you incredibly mad at the healthcare system, this is the novel for you. If you’re already mad or have been burned by America’s healthcare system, there’s a chance this novel could be a fist-pumping endorsement of your experience–except how could a novel about a young mother and wife dying of cancer be described as a fist-pumping anything? Chances are that if you’re already mad, as I am, there won’t be much of anything new to glean from these pages at all other than the human story. And oddly, there just isn’t much there. The doctors, insurance people, and fellow patients in the waiting room are given more depth than the central characters and their closest friends. It was as though Bock, who based this book on his own personal experience after his wife was diagnosed with cancer shortly after the birth of their child, couldn’t deal with the more personal aspects of his own experience so he deliberately kept the main characters at arm’s length from you. That Oliver is something of a jerk doesn’t help, nor does Bock’s odd decision to make “insufferable NYC hipsters” the only real character trait he’s willing to ascribe to both Alice and Oliver.

Grade: D+

Full disclosure: I was given a copy of this book for free to review as part of Amazon’s Vine program.

Alice & Oliver by Charles Bock


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