A Gift of Life

Henry Denker, Author
Henry Denker, Author William Morrow & Company $19.95 (369p) ISBN 978-0-688-08762-3
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
Soap opera overtones trivialize the emotional and ethical ramifications of human heart transplantation in Denker's ( The Retreat ) latest novel. Cardiologist Allen McCandless heads the transplant unit at University Medical Center, where patients with severe cardiac ailments are examined to determine their fitness for a heart transplant. Among the candidates waiting for the few hearts that become available are Winston Forrest, the president's aristocratic, brusque national security adviser, and Jim Campbell, a young, blue-collar family man. While their physical conditions gradually deteriorate, we learn about the Forrests' marital problems, the Campbells' fears, McCandless's post-divorce loneliness and attraction to Mrs. Forrest and of the enervating anxiety induced by waiting for a donor. When a heart finally becomes available, the White House and the Center's mercenary administrator relentlessly pressure McCandless to choose Winston. This serious topic is ill-served by shallow characterizations, stilted dialogue and a superficial glibness of tone. (Sept.)
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