Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Interview & review of The Girl Without a Name by Sandra Block

We are excited to have author Sandra Block with us today.  She joins us for an interview while promoting her latest book, The Girl Without a Name.  Enjoy it after some thoughts on the book!

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Date of publication: September 8, 2015

In what passes for an ordinary day in a psych ward, Dr. Zoe Goldman is stumped when a highly unusual case arrives. A young African American girl, found wandering the streets of Buffalo in a catatonic state, is brought in by police. No one has come forward to claim her, and all leads have been exhausted, so Zoe's treatment is the last hope to discover the girl's identity.

When drugs prove ineffective and medical science seems to be failing, Zoe takes matters into her own hands to track down Jane Doe's family and piece together their checkered history. As she unearths their secrets, she finds that monsters hide where they are least expected. And now she must solve the mystery before it is too late. 
Because someone wants to make sure this young girl never remembers.

My thoughts:

The Girl Without a Name is the second book featuring psychiatrist Zoe Goldman.  I did read the first one, Little Black Lies and my thoughts on that one will be included in our September Mini Musings later this month.  I think that each one could be read as a stand alone, but I think the reader will get more of an appreciation of Zoe's character and thought processes if you read them in order.

In this one, it's a year later and Zoe is finishing up her final year of residency.  This time on a pediatric psych ward.  She faces new challenges since her mother died and she is on probation with the hospital.  She gets a new patient who is catatonic and has no identity. It's a race to figure out who this girl is and what happened to her before she disappears into the system.

I really liked this sequel.  I felt like I got to know Zoe a lot more.  I like that she is a flawed doctor who doesn't know all of the answers and still needs help processing her own issues.  She is smart and compassionate and that really helps her to help her patients.  I liked her determination not to give up and try to solve the case.  And this case was one that kept me guessing! I had my suspicions, but I was way off base!  

I highly recommend this series.  I hope that Zoe is featured in another book very soon!

Kari& Autumn: What inspired you to become a writer?

Sandra: I've always wanted to be a writer - though I've taken a circuitous route to get there! It's hard to say what inspired me per se, it was more like a calling. But I have been inspired by many writers (Joyce Carol Oates, Anne Tyler, Richard Ford, and Henning Menkel to name a few). And I've also had supportive, caring English teachers who encouraged me along the way.

Kari& Autumn: Where do you come up with the ideas for your books?

Sandra: I think it's my subconscious. In The Girl Without a Name, the seed of the story came to me in the form of a first line. "We call her Jane, because she can't tell us her name." Then Jane popped up, fully formed, in a hospital bed. And, it was up to me to figure out who she was, and how she had gotten there.

Kari& Autumn: What exciting projects are waiting in the wings?

Sandra: Right now I'm working on a Detective Adams novel, which is more in the straight crime genre than the Zoe Goldman books. Detective Adams had a minor role in my last novel (Little Black Lies), but a more substantial presence in The Girl Without a Name. I see the character as a Buffalonian Wallander of sorts.

Kari& Autumn: Who is your favorite literary character and why?

Sandra: Isabel Dalhousie from Alexander McCall Smith's Sunday Philosophy Club series. She's middle-aged, sure of herself, a bit nosy, clever, and married to a hot, young Scottish lad. What's not to like? She also makes me giggle every other page.

Kari& Autumn: Just for fun, if you could be any animal, what would it be and why?

Sandra: Hmmm. A bird. I'm terrible at directions and geography, so I might not make it in the wild for very long, but I can think of nothing more wonderful than flying around all day long.

About the author:

Sandra A. Block graduated from college at Harvard, then returned to her native land of Buffalo, New York for medical training and never left. She is a practicing neurologist and proud Sabres fan, and lives at home with her husband, two children, and impetuous yellow lab Delilah. She has been published in both medical and poetry journals. "Little Black Lies" is her debut, and "The Girl Without a Name" in the next novel in the series.  

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