Life Support by Candace Calvert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Readers familiar with the series have already met the affectionate Lauren Barclay in Rescue Team, the 2nd book in the Grace Medical series by Candace Calvert. Lauren always puts other people's needs before her own, to the detriment of her own relationships and happiness. It is a part of her genetic makeup, and it is strongest when troubles pop up in the life of her younger sister, Jessica. When Lauren's parents need her to keep an eye on Jess while they head off to Colorado for family business, Laurence has little choice. She leaves Austen for Houston and takes up residence at Houston Grace Medical. Between the jitters she gets whenever she encounters Eli Landry, local PA and friend to Jessica, and the constricting fear that Jessica might have one of her extreme "lows," Lauren is torn more ways than she can count. Especially when Eli starts sneaking his way into her heart, not hard to do since he's a loving and capable man in possession of an adorable daughter, Emma, and blind Newfoundland, Shrek. Lauren and Eli butt heads over care of disabled individuals since Lauren is an enabler and Eli wishes, for all the world, that the older, disabled brother he loves so much could be permitted to die if the time came. The two learn to cope together, Lauren discovering that enabling Jess is not the answer, and Eli realizing that there is always hope where his brother is concerned.
For Christian fans of medical dramas, this book series, and this author, will really hit the spot. I connected better to the characters in Life Support than I did to Kate and Wes in Rescue Team, probably because I suspect Lauren of being an ISFJ (we can be enablers), and that I understand her need to protect a younger sister. Lauren is a good reminder that Christians aren't perfect and that, no matter how sincere in our faith we might be, we will still make mistakes and wrong choices. Lauren is prone to it because she thinks she's protecting someone when she's really doing damage by not addressing the elephant in the room that no one wants to discuss. She realizes this by the end of the book, thank goodness, but the journey from point A to point B was fascinating.
Eli is an excellent male lead because he is logical and prefers to not let his emotions run his life. Except where his daughter is concerned, naturally, and he is an excellent father. I'm not sure what part was my favorite, his sheepishly telling Lauren that she is his music (Phantom of the Opera much?) or when he and Lauren are snookered into dressing like pirates for a party Emma, in full Elizabeth Swann attire, must attend. Both scenes were awesome, but I think the Jack Sparrow references really clinched the story for me, and my liking of Eli.
I don't know what it's like to live with a handicapped individual. But I do know what it's like to live with someone who suffers from clinical depression. Jessica's problem is bipolar disorder, caused by a chemical imbalance, just like clinical depression. And just like many Christians, Lauren and her parents are convinced that bipolar disorder can be beat with just prayer. Nope, I'm sorry, it doesn't work that way. Medication is there for a reason, and the worst thing in the world a pastor can tell a Christian suffering from a chemical imbalance is that they aren't praying enough or that they don't have enough faith. So, I was pleased with the outcome of this book because it gives a solid wake-up call to those Christians who think that people who suffer from depression or bipolar disorder are somehow in sin. That's not the way it works, and it certainly isn't biblical. There is no sin in taking medication for a chemical imbalance, and I was so happy that was Candace Calvert's conclusion.
Ms. Calvert always offers a solid story of realism in the life of medical personnel, a world in which I have absolutely no familiarity. Her characters feel real, their situations convincing, and the world in which they live compelling. Once again Ms. Calvert has written a winner, and I hope that she will continue to be a steadfast voice for medical drama in Christian fiction.
- I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.
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