“The Girl Without a Name” by Sandra Block – Book Review

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen

We meet Dr. Zoe Goldman, a Yale graduate and psychiatric resident at a large hospital in Buffalo, New York. She is in her last year of residency, and is on probation (due to circumstances that occurred in the first book?). Like all residents, she is often tired due to the long hours they work, and to the fact that they are often ‘on call’ even when not working. Zoe, who is working her child-psych rotation, is a ‘Type A’ personality and is also ADHD, so is trying to find a good balance of meds for herself. Ironically, though Zoe is training to be a psychiatrist herself, she also has regular appointments with one.

On a personal level, Zoe has a serious boyfriend, Mike, who is also a doctor, though he is in a medical field and not a psychiatric one like she is. Zoe also has a close relationship with her brother, Scotty who works at a coffee bar. Zoe and Scotty have recently lost their mother so their bond is strengthening. Zoe also has a very mischievous labradoodle named Arthur who adds some levity to the novel.

Though in a solid relationship, Zoe is attracted to the new attending psychiatrist on her floor, as are all the nurses. Dr. Tad Berringer is tall (taller than Zoe who is six feet), smart, charming, handsome, and married.

They have a new patient. Jane (because she doesn’t know her name) was found by police wandering the streets of Buffalo. Mute and dazed, Jane is an African American teenager whom they guess to be around 13-14 years of age. She is catatonic. Eventually, after weeks of treatment, Jane ‘wakes up’ and tells them her name is Candy, but she can’t remember much else except that she was chasing after a limousine.  Then, a few weeks later, she seems to have a completely different personality and calls herself Daneesha. Who IS this girl and what trauma has she suffered to have succumbed to this disorder?

This novel has been on my TBR for some time now. As it is the second novel in the Zoe Goldman series, I was waiting for the opportunity to read the first novel in the series first. Well folks, with review commitments that never happened. SO, I decided to bite the bullet and dive in the series at number two.  The experience was rewarding. I don’t think that the read was in any way diminished by not reading the series in order.

Zoe Goldman was an engaging character whom I liked immediately. I enjoyed her rapport with the hospital staff, her boyfriend, her brother and the police detective, Frank Adams.

Although I did guess who the ‘bad guy’ was somewhere around 2/3 of the way in the book, this did not ruin the story for me. I was still compelled to read more and find out his ‘backstory’ and how Zoe would learn the truth.

The medical setting was different from what I’ve been reading lately, so that too was a nice change. I think the author captured the frustrations and the fatigue of medical residents and accurately showcased some of the more dominant mental illness varieties suffered by young people.

The ending had a very satisfactory resolution, though perhaps it is not what some readers might expect. All in all, I enjoyed this novel very much and would recommend it to others.

I will keep an eye out for other books in this series of which there are now three titles.

Dr. Zoe Goldman series by Sandra Block

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley.

Sandra 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 family and Delilah, her impetuous yellow Lab. She has been published in both medical and poetry journals. Little Black Lies is her debut, a finalist in the International Thriller Awards, and The Girl Without a Name and The Secret Room are the other books in the Zoe Goldman series. Her latest stand-alone novel What Happened That Night comes out in June 2018.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
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14 Responses to “The Girl Without a Name” by Sandra Block – Book Review

  1. carhicks says:

    I enjoy books with a medical (especially psychiatric) setting that are a bit of a thriller/mystery/suspense. I think I would enjoy this one. I will check it out. Another nice review Lynne.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Four stars is a fantastic review, love the psychiatric/medical background, and that would be a change of pace for me as well. Going to go see if I can find the first in series…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s amazing how many books have the word “girl” in their titles. I think you wrote a piece about that once.

    Bye till next time!



  4. This does sound interesting and as you mention, not a genre (medical) I usually read. I avoid doctor shows like the plague. Definitely one to look for and appreciate your review!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I like the premise of this one!!! Sounds really good! Are they standalones sort of??

    Liked by 1 person

    • Each book’s ‘case/patient’ is different and thus a stand-alone in that regard. The protagonist and her personal life evolve over the course of the books – like most series. I enjoyed this one without reading the first one, yet part of me thinks that I might have enjoyed it more if I knew more of the protagonist’s personal background.


  6. Rosie Amber says:

    Sounds like a puzzling case, is each book in the series a new mystery for Zoe?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Martie says:

    I enjoyed your review.


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