Thank you so much to Quercus for providing my free copy – all opinions are my own.
“Sometimes I want to feel stuff. I’m doing a resuscitation and I know I should feel something, but I don’t know how to anymore. There’s something in me that’s blocked, that’s stuck. There’s a weight on my chest, and I try to breathe it off, but I can’t. So when the patients die, I am relieved. I tell myself it’s better for them to die. They’re suffering, they’re in pain. I try to justify it. I’m tired, Lord.”
With urgency and tenderness Evening Primrose explores issues of race, gender and the medical profession through the eyes of a junior doctor. When Masechaba finally achieves her childhood dream of becoming a doctor, her ambition is tested as she faces the stark reality of South Africa’s public healthcare system. As she leaves her deeply religious mother and makes friends with the politically-minded Nyasha, Masechaba’s eyes are opened to the rising xenophobic tension that carries echoes of apartheid. Battling her inner demons, she must decide if she should take a stand to help her best friend, even it comes at a high personal cost.
“I want to cry, but it takes too much time, too much energy. I want to run away, to escape, but to where?”
What I love most about this book is the writing style. It’s raw, powerful, interesting, and very much human. Masechaba is a doctor in South Africa who details her life in her journal, and it is that journal that we have the pleasure of reading. This is a very short novel but with a really big impact. I felt as if I was reading someone’s mind, very much how I felt when I read Go Ask Alice decades ago. And just like that book, I picked this one up and didn’t put down until I finished. When she talks about her brother, and close to the end of the book, I couldn’t help but get very emotional.
Masechaba describes what it’s like being a doctor, being overworked in a subpar healthcare system, and not fully realizing what being a doctor under such circumstances entails. As I was reading I felt optimism mixed with utter despair. But I also found it fascinating. I got a modern, firsthand glimpse at what her life is like in South Africa as a doctor. It’s a book that is easily read in one sitting and will compel you to finish it. And just a warning, the ending really packs a punch. I can’t recommend this book enough to anyone who appreciates extraordinary literary fiction about race, gender, xenophobia, and politics, as well as those who enjoy reading books set in the medical profession.
My rating is 4 / 5 stars!
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