Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Critical Care, by Candace Calvert (Tyndale)

(Click cover for more information)
There are three relative-milieu perspectives in which you often find stories set.

First, there’s the inside-looking-out view. At the risk of sounding self-serving, I’ll use my own Ben Amittai: First Call as an example. The hero—the prophet Jonah—is viewing the outside world from inside his unique perspective as a prophet called of God. He sees the effects of his calling—his milieu, if you will—on those around him who are not part of that calling, but are touched by it.

Second, there’s the view from the outside looking in. TL Hines’ Waking Lazarus has an interesting twist on this perspective as our hero, Jude Allman, has forced himself outside his milieu, denying his calling, and looking in only as his gift is forced upon him.

Finally, there’s the inside-looking-in view.* Candace Calvert has excelled in this perspective in Critical Care. Here we see the inside workings of a trauma team operating within the milieu of an emergency room, and we see the effects of the ER on the actors living and working within it. What do I mean? Oh, okay, enough of the esoteric stuff. Here’s the scoop:

Doctor Logan Calvert is the hard-nosed ER director at Sierra Mercy Hospital. The good doctor’s utmost motivation is the wellbeing of his patients. “Good,” you say. Well, in his drive for perfection, he goes through ER nurses like a hot knife through soft butter. If they aren’t the crème of the crop, they’re history. No questions asked, no answers offered. Oh, and he has a hidden trauma in his past that defines his drive.

Nurse Claire Avery is attached to the education department of the hospital. Her counseling task: to “heal the healers” who day in and day out, psychologically deal with the trauma they encounter in different ways—and not always gracefully. Oh, and she has a hidden trauma in her past that defines her drive.

ER Nurse Sarah Burke is an overachiever. Excessively efficient, she is driven by her self-imposed commitment never to let Dr. Caldwell down. Oh, and—yes, you guessed it—she has a hidden trauma in her past that defines her drive.

ER Nurse Erin Qinn is the nurse-in-charge of the ER nurses. She is competent, caring, and caught in the middle between the iron-fisted Dr. Caldwell and her own nursing staff. Hidden trauma? I’ll let you decide.

In short, if I were unfortunate enough to end up in an ER, this is the team I’d want working on me.

All of these drives at times complement, at times collide. Conflict, the grit of reality in the ER and, of course, unexpected romance combine to make this a fast-paced novel that challenges your mind, your heart, and your faith all at the same time. Ms. Calvert—a former ER nurse herself—delivers a tightly-written tale that sends you to the peak of contentment on one page, then into the valley of frustration on the next; kind of like, well, life in an emergency room. Her command of the intricacies of the ER and the pressures it imposes on those who work there permeate her story as the ER team handles one crisis after another. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind Ms. Calvert being on that trauma team either…

If you like ER and Grey’s Anatomy, but yearn for a clear Christian motivation in the mix, Critical Care is your book.

* No, I didn’t forget the outside-looking-out. The milieu of the story is the “in” and there would be no setting for the story if there were no “in.” Nice try. :-)


CandaceCalvert said...

Bruce--I'm completely honored by your thoughtful review of CRITICAL CARE. You've nailed it as if you were . . . on the "inside", and part of my ER team. You "get" us, and that is a huge blessing. Thank you for "scrubbing in."


Bruce Judisch said...


Thanks so much for commenting. I enjoyed the book--had to wrestle it from Jeannie, who wanted it next. Her turn now. :-)

Cheers! Bruce

Four Lights For Him said...

I'm not a big fan of ER or Grey's Anatomy (mainly because I don't like the site of people's wounds) but I don't mind venturing into the ER through long as it's clean.

This one sounds very interesting! I'll just have to see about obtaining a copy.

Bruce Judisch said...


Yeah, you're safe with this one. Candy has done a nice job of blending reality with the get-away you like to have with a novel. I think you'll really like the story.

Cheers! Bruce