THE ANTIDOTE FOR EVERYTHING
$16.00 trade paper, available now
Rating: 4.75* of five
The Publisher Says: In this whip-smart and timely novel from acclaimed author Kimmery Martin, two doctors travel a surprising path when they must choose between treating their patients and keeping their jobs.
Georgia Brown’s profession as a urologist requires her to interact with plenty of naked men, but her romantic prospects have fizzled. The most important person in her life is her friend Jonah Tsukada, a funny, empathetic family medicine doctor who works at the same hospital in Charleston, South Carolina and who has become as close as family to her.
Just after Georgia leaves the country for a medical conference, Jonah shares startling news. The hospital is instructing doctors to stop providing medical care for transgender patients. Jonah, a gay man, is the first to be fired when he refuses to abandon his patients. Stunned by the predicament of her closest friend, Georgia’s natural instinct is to fight alongside him. But when her attempts to address the situation result in incalculable harm, both Georgia and Jonah find themselves facing the loss of much more than their careers.
I CHECKED THIS BOOK OUT OF MY LOCAL LIBRARY. USE THAT LIBRARY! THEY NEED OUR BUSINESS!
My Review: This is, apparently, one of my reviews that got struck because of the actions of someone truly cowardly and contemptible. No matter now! Their claws have been pulled, which is a thing I wouldn't even do to a cat.
When Georgia, a kind-hearted and very busy doctor, flies to Amsterdam to a conference, she is gifted by the universe with a hot guy, Mark, to have a vacation romance with. The problem is she's got a world of distracting trouble at home that impacts her found family, most especially her gay BFF Jonah. The solution is for Jonah to pack up and join her (and Mark) in Amsterdam.
As they're doctors, this doesn't strain credulity. They can afford it; they're neither one married or even involved (except Georgia's thinking about Mark that way and is wondering if he is too). The time they spend playing together in Amsterdam is illuminating...and you just know what will come of that when they get home! Mark's cool with Jonah the gay BFF, and with Georgia being herself. In fact, he's just a really, really great guy. This is always a good sign!
“I see,” Mark said, a perplexed look on his face as they all took seats. Georgia and Jonah did that to people sometimes: the syncopated rhythm of their speech, their obvious closeness, the unadulterated fun they had in each other’s company—all these things had bothered previous boyfriends of both of them, even though neither of them, of course, could possibly present as a romantic rival. But Mark didn’t seem threatened, just alert. He shifted his attention back to her.
All fun must end; all good things come with hideously high price tags, if the small-souled religious jackanapes have anything at all to say about it. And, in South Carolina where Georgia and Jonah practice medicine, they certainly do:
“That’s a widely held misconception, that science and religion are incompatible,” she said. “And if you’re Southern and religious, everyone assumes you’ve got the brainpower of an amoeba and you fit in socially somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun.”
"I've read the Gospels," she said, pausing, "word for word, and I feel strongly that Christ would not have said to me, 'Suffer unto the gays urinary retention; but everybody else can see the urologist.'"
I absolutely adore that line. It's so exactly and precisely accurate, true, and a devastating rebuke of the misuse of Religion from within the church! I know it's a no-brainer...but I am enraged at this (fictional; barely) nightmarish homophobic, transphobic, heinously unchristian use of their stupid religion's *actual*expressed*foundational*tenets* at every turn. That's what elevates this read above the herd and makes me wish I could push it at more people.
Another facet of Georgia (and, to my surprise, mega-rich-guy Mark) is the anti-materialist commonsensicality of them both:
Here she was, primed for action, and stuck with nothing to attack except a herd of smug Danish modern sling-back chairs the color of a polished acorn.
She beckoned toward a mohair-covered daybed, strewn with cashmere throws in various flaming colors: fuchsia, orange, lime. “This could take a while. Why don’t you join me on the divan? I’ll make cocktails.”
“This thing looks like a crayon factory vomited on a cotton ball,” he said, but, obediently, he removed his suit jacket and flopped onto the mohair concoction.
It's a lovely little grace note...not only does Georgia not check her brain at the church door, she doesn't fall for the blandishments of the overpriced and underdelivered "luxury goods" industry. Mark, we're told, is a businessman with a track record of success, so it makes a little less sense to me for him not to use the glossy surfaces of things to advertise it...but I will gladly accept Author Kimmery's decision.
What happens as a result of this authorial decision is that, as the stakes pile up and begin to form the auto-da-fé pyre, I am deeply and intensely invested in it all. I am not going to tell you anything I wouldn't've wanted to know going into this read: There's serious and disgusting amounts of sexism, homophobia, and deeply toxic patriarchal masculinity that gets weaponized against both our main characters (and thus, in Mark's eyes, against him too). There's a lot of soul-searching and conversation that ponders the real costs of the kind of stupidity and hatred that passes for "politically conservative morality" (in reality not political, not conservative, not moral):
In this day and age, people believe whatever fits with their worldview, no matter how strong the evidence against it is.
"The only thing that matters—the only antidote for discrimination and corruption and every other evil that plagues our society—is integrity. Behaving with honor. Shining a light on the truth. Not gaming the system to suit your . . . aims.”
There's a lot to unpack in those sentences. I am always surprised when someone writes down and gets published what I've been saying in my head for a long time. It's definitely happened here.
The way this book ends is, well...it suits the story. I think it should tell long-time readers of my reviews everything they need to know when I say I forgot to count the w-bombs Author Kimmery dropped on me...I forgot to notice them after two or three. I was that deeply and passionately involved in this well-told tale of what Family means, of how Faith should look, and what Fairness demands.
Definitely recommended reading.