The Law of Similars, by Chris Bohjelian

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The first Chris Bohjelian book I ever read was Midwives, in 1997.  It's the story of a well-trained modern midwife who performs and emergency cesarean section on a woman she believes has died of a stroke during childbirth.  But what if the woman she thought was dead wasn't, and she herself caused the fatal injury?  The novel examines the debate over alternative medicine through a gripping personal account of tragedy.  I devoured this book, and developed an instant love for the author.  I would have read the phone book if he wrote it!

Fast forward a few years and I am thrilled to find a copy of Bohjelian's The Law of Similars on GoodReads.  By this point I've read several of Bohjelian's books, and loved each and every one.  The Law of Similars was sure to be another home run for Bohjelian, as far as I was concerned.  I didn't even know the plot line, but it didn't matter-I wanted it!

Well, here's what it's about.  The patient of a homeopath named Carissa Lake dies after eating a nut to which he knew he was allergic.  His wife believes that Carissa told him to do it, and she tries to get the District Attorney's office to file murder charges against Lake.  An assistant DA, Leland Fowler, widower and single father, is first assigned to hear the story from the dead man's wife, but there is a problem.  He's been seeing Carissa Lake-both as a homeopathy patient and as a date.  His feelings for her cause an ethical dilemma that will challenge everything.

Alternative medicine?  Patient dies?  Malpractice?  Sound familiar?

Apparently, there is a belief in homeopathy that taking a small amount of something that causes the same symptoms you have will actually make the symptoms stop by jump starting your body's own healing processes.  It's called the law of similars-and provided a very apt title for this book.  I was stunned that the story was so similar to Midwives.  I've read books by this author on transgenderism, foster parenting, gun control, and sexual assault.  Bohjelian is not a one trick pony, telling only one story over and over again.  What happened here?  And The Law of Similars, published in 1999, wasn't even written that long after Midwives.  If I thought the two stories were pretty much the same after 13 years, surely after only two years the author himself must have noticed what was happening. 

I will say, the book itself was interesting and well-written, as always.  Bohjelian's characters are always so well-written.  Even when I don't agree with their motives I find myself understanding their perspective.  I learned a lot about homeopathy from this novel, and while I'm still not sure how I feel about it at least I have some insight into the underlying philosophy.  Leland's character especially moved me-a single father who lost his wife to a car accident, the scenes with his daughter were so tender, and the fact that he was so obviously at a loss about how to move on from the tragedy made him imminently sympathetic.  I can't say that I dislike the book-I devoured it just like Bohjelian's other books-but why two books with such similar topics?  I suppose only he can answer that question.


  1. This is a great review. Your enthusiasm for the book shines through.

  2. Bohjalian has always been hit and miss for me. This one sounds very interesting though.

  3. I have this one on my TBR shelf. Bohjalian is one of my favorite authors.....


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