Randall Wallace, the screen writer for the movies Braveheart, Pearl Harbor, Secretariat, and We Were Soldiers, is a master story-teller. And he puts his skill to work beautifully in The Touch. The Touch is a novella about a young surgeon, Andrew Jones, who has the rare, one-in-a-million surgical ability known in the medical world as “the touch” – hands that can work magic on the operating table. But Andrew gives it all up when his fiancée dies in his arms following a tragic automobile accident. As Andrew attempts to perform an emergency tracheotomy on his fiancée at the accident scene he later relates that he could “feel her life leave her body.” Devastated and lacking confidence, he now works as a professor in a small medical school in the south.
The other main character in this book is Lara Blair, the high-powered, wealth and driven owner of a biomedical engineering company that is developing a surgical tool that will duplicate exactly the movement of a surgeon’s hands in complicated brain surgery procedures, eliminating or reducing the risk of failed surgical procedures. Lara is on a quest to perfect her machine, and she needs Andrew to help her in the project. Otherwise the project will be a failure. But this would mean that Andrew must leave the comfortable confines of his self-imposed exile and step back into a world he is trying so hard to escape.
The plot elements are intense enough to make the story move along quickly, and there are hidden surprises all along the way, but Randall Wallace’s primary artistic tool is great character development. He masterfully involves the reader in the lives of the two main characters, and is careful not to clutter the landscape with too many sub-characters. While they are there and play an important part in moving the story along in their supporting roles, they do not get in the way.
The Touch is very much a love story, and, as such, will appeal primarily to women. However, there are enough manly elements in the book that would make it appeal to the male reader as well. And while Randall Wallace’s faith comes through strongly in his writing, it is not applied heavy-handedly. As such, The Touch will be acceptable to the faith community, but also welcomed in the secular. I highly recommend The Touch.
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