Eli and his father live in an uncomfortable, awkward, and at times tumultuous home. After obtaining a job with a famous biologist, Dr. Wyatt, Eli's estrangement from his father grows as a mystery decades old unravels. What is the relationship between Eli's terminally ill mother and Dr. Wyatt? Why does Eli's father hate the biologist so much? Who is the mysterious, beautiful girl staying with Dr. Wyatt and why does Eli feel so drawn to her? His relationships unfurl and deteriorate as Eli seeks the answers to his questions. When he learns the truth, will it change how Eli sees himself?
HELIX Nancy Werlin. Dial, $15.99 (256p) ISBN 0-8037-2606-6
DOUBLE HELIX (Book) [Review of the book Double helix]. (2004). Publishers Weekly, 251(7), 173-174.
Nancy Werlin's medical mystery weaves suspense and medical drama into a thought-provoking narrative. The main characters, Eli, Dr. Wyatt, and Eli's father, are complimented by a cast of secondary female characters, the enigmatic Kayla and Eli's girlfriend Viv. Werlin creates strong supporting female characters who display confidence, courage, and intelligence, helping to unweave the puzzle Wyatt presents. In Dr. Wyatt we see the epitome of egotism in medical research and blatant disregard for ethical issues, a warning that Werlin brings home to the readers. Even with a whispered warning regarding the implications of researching involving stem cells, embryos, and genetic engineering, the book itself does not come off as didactic or overly-preachy. Instead, the reader is left with questions regarding these issues and the thrill of a well-structured and evenly paced mystery.
Library Uses:This title is a terrific choice as a read aloud for Language Arts classes and Biology or other science classes as it allows teachers to build cross-curriculuar connections through literature. The library can support the exploration of medical ethics through text sets that include other science fiction and literary texts and nonfiction texts that address the scientific and ethical issues that surround genetic engineering and research. Additional novels may include Jodi Piccoult's My Sister's Keeper and Nancy Farmer's House of the Scorpion.