Release Date: 18th February 2020
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Author Website: Kimmery Martin’s Website
Georgia Brown’s profession as a urologist requires her to interact with plenty of naked men, but her romantic prospects have fizzled. The most important person in her life is her friend Jonah Tsukada, a funny, empathetic family medicine doctor who works at the same hospital in Charleston, South Carolina and who has become as close as family to her.
Just after Georgia leaves the country for a medical conference, Jonah shares startling news. The hospital is instructing doctors to stop providing medical care for transgender patients. Jonah, a gay man, is the first to be fired when he refuses to abandon his patients. Stunned by the predicament of her closest friend, Georgia’s natural instinct is to fight alongside him. But when her attempts to address the situation result in incalculable harm, both Georgia and Jonah find themselves facing the loss of much more than their careers.
I picked up this book on the recommendation of Jesse from Bowties and Books in their video as I was interested in the plot, but also… that cover. I mean, it’s gorgeous.
When I first starting reading, I had a few issues with this book. We were sort of dancing around each other; it drew me in for a few moments, then held me back, then glanced around the room for a better partner and stepped on my toe. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it was that wasn’t clicking with us, but I wasn’t enjoying myself.
I felt like this for the first third of the book. It is much more romance heavy than I was expecting, and though Georgia and Mark had a very unique meet-cute that I was into (Mark seizing on a plane on the way to Amsterdam and Georgia having to perform emergency care), the rest of their time in Amsterdam just felt like exposition. It wasn’t until later in the book when the focus shifted back to the main plot that I felt any sort of real connection between the two of them, and even then, it felt more like convenience for the plot than an actual relationship I was rooting for.
The first 100 pages were also much more heavy on the comedy than I was expecting, the form of which wasn’t to my personal taste (though it may be to yours). I found the humour to be a little bit sharp in places, which sometimes works for me, but often didn’t in this book, especially at the beginning. It is just a personal preference but some lines made me cringe a little, while the slapstick comedy took me from the story. If you’re a fan of that kind of humour, though, you’ll absolutely love the first third of this book. However, for me, it just made me impatient to get to the main plot, to get back to Charlestone and get my teeth into what was going on with the hospital and their case against Jonah.
Once we got back into it (around page 100), my experience was completely different. The book and I fell into a rhythm that had me hooked, and finally starting to care about the two main characters. This isn’t to say that Georgia didn’t absolutely infuriate me with her recklessness and frankly terrible decision-making skills, but I began to understand her more and accept her for who she was. Watching her progression as she was really put under intense pressure and stress also mellowed me to her.
Jonah is quite flamboyant and very stereotypically gay and by the end, I loved him. He has a daft sense of humour (which didn’t always land with me, but was endearing in its own way) and was fun to read about. However, it’s his caring nature that really made me love love him, especially how that side of him was brought out by the conflict in the novel. His progression as a character really just hurt and played on my own protective instincts just the way it was supposed to.
Though I definitely liked Jonah more than Georgia, I don’t think this book would have worked if it wasn’t for the friendship between the two of them, and the unit they created together. It was beautiful. You can really feel the love they have for each other, and their pre-established relationship seems so realistic. It was, without a doubt, my favourite thing about the book. However, it wasn’t until they were thrown into conflict that their relationship was elevated from light comic relief to real, unshakeable platonic love.
Something else I really liked about The Antidote for Everything was the subject matter. I hesitate to say that we need more representation of discrimination in healthcare in books, because this is the first book I’ve read that is centred on a hospital, and a mainly all-doctor cast. Therefore, I can’t say whether or not this theme is particularly prevalent, but I’m going to hazard a guess and say it’s not.
This is such an important issue to read about, especially given the recent news that the Trump administration have altered the definition of sex discrimination so that transgender people are no longer protected under its laws. This means that transgender patients could legally be turned away from hospitals and healthcare providers purely based on their identity (and in the middle of a pandemic? This is its own special brand of evil).
This kind of cruelty can’t go unnoticed, and centring fiction around it is one way to bring it to more people’s attention.
If you’re not aware of what’s happening in healthcare right now, here are some links to help you get informed (and if you have any to share, please do!).
- This is a report from Stonewall on the experiences of trans people in Britain, with a section on healthcare on page 16.
- These are articles from The New York Times and Gay Times about the actions of the Trump administration, and the harm it is/will cause for many trans people in need of medical care.
If you like:
- Friendship as a theme and focus.
- Important social issues as a focus.
- Light, silly humour.
Then this is the book for you!
If you don’t like:
- Romance overshadowing the main plot (at least for the first 100 pages)
- TW: transphobia, homophobia, death of a parent, drug overdose, alcoholism, description of surgery.
Then maybe give it a little more thought before picking this one up.
Have you read Antidote for Everything? Let me know and we can chat! And please check out Jesse’s channel Bowties and Books, as I wouldn’t have come across this book without them. Their recommendations are top tier.