In the Matter of Billy K

David A. Tate, Author M. Evans and Company $18.95 (228p) ISBN 978-0-87131-651-6
Based on a true story, Tate's ( Health, Hope and Healing ) ambitious but wooden novel focuses on well-meaning parents whose attempt to treat their cancer-stricken son with scientifically unproven therapy meets with resistance from New Hampshire's department of social services. When Dr. Rachel Freedman diagnoses nine-year- old Billy Keily with Hodgkin's disease, she recommends conventional radiation therapy. The distraught, fanatically religious Keilys decide instead to follow the advice of a holistic practitioner advocating laetrile, megavitamins and an exercise regimen. Rachel seeks the aid of attorney Peter Heines, whom she befriended during his own victorious bout with a similar form of lymphatic cancer; although his memories make him apprehensive about the case, he agrees to act as Billy's legal guardian against parental neglect. Though initially promising, the novel drifts away from compelling questions about parental responsibility and becomes preoccupied with Peter's collapsing marriage and his blossoming romance with Rachel. Readers are not given enough information about either the Keilys or how the disease affects Billy, and though provocative points are raised, the writing lacks the necessary force and complexity. (June)
Reviewed on: 07/29/1991
Release date: 08/01/1991
Hardcover - 978-0-517-11559-6
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