It's hard to top James Herriot's beloved veterinarian stories. The unnamed veterinarian/narrator in Yannick Murphy's novel, The Call, isn't Herriot, but there's something lovable about this man and the story of a rough year in his family.
The Call is written in the form of a journal, one year in the life of the New England vet, his unnamed wife, referred to as "The wife," and their three children, Sam, Sarah, and Mia. Life goes along, as the narrator writes about "The call," each call to attend to an animal. Since he doesn't handle small animals, most calls are for farm animals, horses, cows, even a sheep that lives in the house. Interspersed between calls, actions taken, and his musings on his drive home, are the accounts of meals, conversations with the wife and kids, and stories of a spaceship.
And, then one fall day, the vet takes his twelve-year-old son, Sam, hunting. A stray shot from an unseen hunter knocks Sam from his tree, leaving him in a coma. Somehow, between visits to the hospital, life must go on. The narrator continues to answer calls, but, at each one, he finds himself searching the eyes of a neighbor who might have shot his son.
Murphy's journal forces the narration into the format of an account of daily life. But, it's the hunting accident that defines the year. The vet and his wife confront their feelings, their relationships, and their beliefs, whether it's a belief in spaceships, medicine, or their lives. The Call won't be what you expect. It's a story filled with humor despite the accident, and hope. Most of all, it's a warm story of family love, no matter how family is defined.
Yannick Murphy's website is www.yannickmurphy.com
The Call by Yannick Murphy. HarperCollins. ©2011. ISBN 9780062023148 (paperback), 225p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, after I requested it for review.