Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Anatomy of a Meet Cute, by Addie Woolridge

Montlake, ISBN 9781662504570, March 2023

Samantha Holbrook is a young doctor, starting a research fellowship at a hospital in San Franciso. Flying back to SF from her family home in Ohio, she responds to a call for a doctor to respond to an onboard emergency. Her specialty is obstetrics, not emergency medicine, but no one else is responding, so she does.

Turns out there's another doctor on board, who had headphones on and didn't hear the call. He also matches the totally inadequate description the flight attendant gave her, and it takes a few moments to figure out the patient is another guy just a couple of seats away.

The other doctor, Grant Gao, is a little older, and definitely more experienced, and their joint effort to respond becomes very embarrassing for Sam, even though she's ultimately the one who works out exactly which "magic mushroom" the patient is high on.

Later, much to her distress, she discovers that he's the senior research fellow at the hospital she'll be doing her research fellowship. Not her boss, but embarrassingly close to it.

Sam is sharing an apartment with friends Duke Washington and Jehan, whose last name I can't find. Okay, no one cares as much as me, I get that. Just remember, if you are someone who cares as much as me what the characters' last names are, hers is omitted here only because I can't find it in the book.

So these three are sharing an apartment, all doing a research fellowship at the same hospital, and they're good friends.

Sam finds the idea for her research project when she has an obstetrics patient who had skipped her last two appointments, who was told to keep this one by a doula she just happens to know casually. The doula, Kaiya Owens, got concerned about her condition, and told her she really needed to keep her next appointment. She does, and it's good thing.

That's the germ of Sam's proposal--recruit experienced doulas, who are culturally connected to the very people most intimidated by the medical establishment, and have them provide more frequent contact with maternity patients, pregnancy and birthing classes, and the advice and support, such as lactation assitance, that nurses can provide--except that they're alreadybadly over scheduled. Start a real birthing center at the hospital, and track outcomes and patient response to determine if this should be a permanent program.

This is a major undertaking for a young research fellow, and Grant Gao, and Sam's friends, and the hospital director, Dr. Franklin, are all concerned she's taking on too much. Franklin agrees to let her give it a try, if she can get the funding.

It's here that we start to see what good friends Duke and Jehan are. They pitch in on helping her write her grant proposal, identify funding sources, and submit it to potential fuding sources. Sam gets the funding, and agrees, no, volunteers, to help Jehan plan for her engagement party by sending out the save-the-date announcements and the invitations.

Unfortunately, her mother chooses this time to ask her for "just a little favor." Do all the work of planning and organizing a reunion for her father's old Navy friends in San Franciso. Sam's brother will be doing the same in Los Angeles, where he lives now.

And no attempt on Sam's part to explain how busy she is, how demanding her schedule, the importance of what she's doing, produces anything but passive-aggressive guilt tripping and threats of going no contact. She shouldn't cave, but she does.

Oh, she also has to plan the launch day party for the birthing center, including being in a video to promote the program to the funder's fellow venture capitalists and NGOs. It's on the same date as the date her mother insisted on for the reunion party.

Yes, she should have said no to her mother. But, sorry, folks, I've been there, with a mother for whom nothing I did was good enough, and there was always another hoop to jump through to not-quite-manage to prove I was a good-enough daughter. It does terrible things to you, and it took therapy to stop giving in every single time.

So I really felt for Sam, her inablity to say no, and her completely unexamined belief that  any help from anyone needed to be reciprocated immediately because nothing is ever "no strings attached."

Which bring us to Grant Gao. Who is handsome, smart, organized--and a lot kinder and more giving than is immediately obvious. Sam's very attracted to him, and absolutely convinced he can't really be attracted to her. Despite that, he manages to figure her out a little bit, and provide help in ways that really matter.

But he also has a tendency to make her play guessing games about his intentions, which is just about the worst thing he can do with Sam.

There's a lot going on here, and the characters, including the secondary characters, are interesting and well-developed. There's also a good look here at how hard it is to get the necessary services going in exactly the communities that need them the most.

I've seen complaints that this isn't really a rom-com, or isn't a good rom-com. I loved it. It's a rom-com with someone like me, and a family I recognize, in it.

I really enjoyed it.

I received a free eloctronic ARC from Montlake, via NetGalley.

No comments:

Post a Comment