A debut novel that follows the rollicking, unpredictable adventures of a four-year student at the start of his medical education.
The pseudonymous Hirsch, a Maryland-based practicing physician, brings med student Seth Levine to life right from the opening chapter, in which a cadaver proves prime fodder for a game between him and his classmates involving body parts. In a Manhattan medical school, Seth and his classmates fret over grades, girls, and the gory medical details of ailing patients while also attempting to navigate their melodramatic personal lives and wavering grade-point averages. Seth’s relationship with his girlfriend, April, is troubled, especially after they go through a pregnancy scare. She’s a small-town girl from Virginia, and the big city frightens her as much as it invigorates Seth. Hirsch buffers the intensity of Seth’s subsequent medical school years and challenging residency inpatient cases (including a particularly riveting childbirth scene) with his likable lab partners, such as Sujay, who uses humor to take the awkwardness out of nerve-wracking anatomy examination classes and forensics-lab excursions. After April unceremoniously dumps Seth for another guy, he dives headfirst into his hospital-research rotations and his obsession over a stunning fellow student named Abby. As graduation looms ever closer, other issues emerge, but they aren’t anything a drunken foray at a Greenwich Village sex club can’t alleviate. Hirsch’s novel, a “multi-decade labor of love,” is intelligent, humorous, and authentic in tone. Seth’s first-person perspective allows the story to provide an intimate view into a clinical world, populated by both gracious and misanthropic medical professionals, all seen through the eyes of a neophyte. The protagonist also learns much about himself and his classmates along the way. Entertaining, educative, and unflaggingly funny, this debut novel will particularly appeal to real-life med students searching for a fast-moving, relatable respite between classes.
A dynamic, lightweight story of medical school interwoven with the joys and pains of love and youth.