Monday, November 18, 2013

Review: A White Coat is My Closet by Jake Wells

Reviewed by SinChan
A White Coat is My Closet by Jake Wells
Dreamspinner Press
Novel: 344 pgs
5 Pants Off

Zack Sheldon doesn’t have time to be lonely. He’s in his last year as a pediatric resident, almost married to the job, and busy with the joys and sorrows that come with providing medical care to children. Professionally, he’s confident, accomplished, and respected. But personally he’s too insecure to approach a sexy man like Sergio Quartulli, or even to imagine that Sergio might be attracted to him.

Zack spots Sergio from across the gym, and then a chance meeting poolside somehow turns into a date. Before Zack knows it, they’ve become a couple, but Zack’s white coat is his closet at the hospital, and committing to a relationship with Sergio makes it difficult for Zack to continue hiding behind it. On the other hand, he grew up in a small town where being gay was shameful, and he works in an environment that can sometimes be homophobic, so it’s hard for him to open up about who he really is. Before Zack can make a choice on his own terms, circumstances force him to make a decision. He can continue to hide, or he can step out from behind his white coat and risk everything for love.

The first chapter is so exciting! The story starts out with Zach helping to develop a body into the world and mediate any complications. There are a lot of medical terms and procedures, but the chapter also conveys a rush and anticipation. The hospital setting is an integral part of the story and this medical novel clearly shows the pecking order in the hospital. Personality, I love the details and medical terms used in the story, especially since everything is explained so readers without a medical background can understand them. Being a doctor, you really spend a lot of time in the hospital and that is a big part of a doctor's day to day life, so I'm glad the story shows Zach being a doctor the majority of the book.

Zach and Sergio's first few meetings are awkward and uncomfortable for me because I don't know where or how this couple will end up. Zach is completely infatuated with Sergio's looks and physique, even though those things don't define a person. He's socially awkward and shy and tends to put himself down a lot. I love him as a doctor but how he handles his personal life doesn't endear me to him at all. He's very bias against men that are not the stereotypical hot stud. He cleanly splits his "straight" life at work and "gay" life at home. His friends from his two worlds don't mix. None of those things endear me to him.

Sergio, on the other hand, is super guarded and seems like he has something to hide or be wary of. It makes me suspect he had a bad love experience or something against Italian and American relationships. However, that didn't turn out to be the case, so I didn't grasp this character's personality until later into the story.

Zach shows amazing character growth and the credit goes to an amazing boyfriend that's really forgiving and friends that care. He was stuck in the closet by his own insecurities and childhood fears but that's completely understandable from my point of view. He conforms to his parents' beliefs of what a real man is and grew up having to hide in the closet. The central theme of the story: accepting that he is gay and being able to stand firm against homophobic opinions is the big statement.

It's amazing to me that I can remember most of the side characters in the story. The impact of the characters comes out the pages loud and clear. The little boy and girl that gets admitted into the ER and falls under Zach's care makes an impression on me. Zach cares about these kids and the reader also knows the kids' medical conditions and complications. Zach's best friends also have distinctive personalities and voices and they are a wonderful supporting cast.

On the downside, I think the jokes are a little too frequent or too strong and they distract me from the story and seem unrealistic. Even though some of them are funny and I actually laughed out loud, having jokes in the majority of character dialogues is a little much. I keep thinking people don't talk like that in real life.

Overall, this is a moving story (translation: I cried a lot through it). I'm totally committed to Zach's and Sergio's relationship by the end. This book is amazing and I'll probably reread in the near future to experience the drama, emotional tension, and hospital crises again (with the romance taking a backseat). Highly recommended.

5 Pants Off

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