This little novel is the retrospective tale of a childhood event told by the protagonist 40 years later. Family relationships and bonds in conflict with professional and community obligations vie with the shadow of racism and sexual abuse in the doctor/patient relationship for the core tensions in the book. The setting is a small rural community where the pioneer family about which the tale evolves controls the law and the medicine. The boy narrator relates his view of the breakdown of family as its secret--a physician uncle who is suspected of sexually abusing his native-American women patients--becomes a force that demands action from the doctor’s brother who serves as the sheriff.


Although not in the strictest sense a medicine-in-literature piece, this novel evolves around the alleged professionally unacceptable behavior of a physician who uses his power and privilege against a relatively powerless minority group. The work is simple in style, the narrative is easily followed, and the tension is well sustained. The sense of sadness and loss that accompanies the tarnishing of a name, and the collapse of a family structure, is poignantly developed by the narrator.

This story is more about the effect of professional misconduct on those who love the perpetrator, rather than on the literal victims--nevertheless, it addresses some of the personal implications of unethical behavior.



Place Published

New York



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