THE HEALERS by Gerald Green
Kirkus Star


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Borrowing a basic brother-vs.-brother setup from Rich Man, Poor Man, a do-gooding idealist from his own Last Angry Man, and just about everything else from the doctor soaps, Green has sutured together a slow-moving, dialogue-heavy Long Island family saga--tolerably readable but lifelessly locked into dull stereotypes, ethnic and otherwise. Dr. Kevin Derry is the popular, handsome, everything-comes-easy Irish-American brother: he'll rise from 1950 med school to the moneyed, tenured top of his profession before Green piles on the misfortunes that the formula calls for--a compulsively adulterous ""Fifth Avenue Princess"" of a wife with anorexia nervosa and suicidal tendencies; a retarded stepson; a drug-addict son; a dreamy Jewish girlfriend who leaves him; and Big Doubts about his Life. Dr. Joe Derry is the brawling kid brother with ""an overactive sense of justice"" who gets none of the breaks, but he winds up with the loyal wife who stands by his side as he doctors the sick in impoverished locales (""I was happy in Arizona with those kids with ringworm""), specializes in sickle-cell anemia, and fights against brother Kevin to bring Equal Opportunity to medicine. There's also sister Bridie, the altruistic, photogenic psychologist who sells out to become a network exec's mistress and the Barbara Walters of medical reporting; but she's pretty extraneous till she joins Joe in the fight against establishment Kevin. In fact, nearly everything seems extraneous as Green scampers through the Sixties and Seventies, roping in a moon launch, a Vietnam argument, and a People's takeover of the hospital as historical quickies. Likewise the bland and unconvincing medical crises--except for an in-hospital hepatitis epidemic caused by a kitchen helper urinating in the mayonnaise--and the periodic sex of the semi-explicit thrust-and-moan school. It's all been done better before, often by real M.D.s, but Green's recent Holocaust exposure may attract a TV-oriented audience to this plodding serial--which reads like a slightly-above-average TV script already.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1979
Publisher: Putnam