Outcome: A Novel
Outcome opens with Diana Devlin, a pilot, transporting Dr. Sukhdev Bhagat to perform a liver transplant; Karen Puno getting in a devastating car crash while attempting to evacuate her home as a hurricane strikes; and Jennifer Banks, mother of two, learning that she has hepatitis C. It doesn’t take long for the three strands of the narrative to intersect and form one: Dr. Bhagat will perform the surgery on Jennifer Banks, while Karen Puno’s misfortune proves to be a stroke of luck for the Banks family, as she registered to be an organ donor before her death. The novel unfolds into a medical drama, interspersed with interludes from the point of view of Karen’s dog Putt-Putt, who escaped the wreckage of the car and wandered about, searching for the rest of his family.
While I enjoyed the book, the medical terminology was a bit dense for me, and I found myself alternating between learning a great deal about liver transplants and feeling as though, as a layperson, I was in over my head. However, the medical drama is not the only reason to read the book. The author does an excellent job at portraying serendipitous human connection, and the interactions between the Puno and Banks families were touching and genuine. Putt-Putt’s story, too, was heart-warming, and I was moved by the tender portrait of a dog trying to find a place he can call home after his owner has been ripped away from him by a sudden moment of tragedy.
Whether you’re a sucker for medical drama or, like me, more interested in the side of life on the other side of the operating room doors, you’ll find something worth reading in Outcome. By turns informational and human, and always intelligent, the book blew me away by showing quiet moments interspersed with the tense drama that comes with saving a life.
Barbara Mary Ebel
Barbara Ebel, M.D.