She That Remains: A Novel

Anne Irgens Vandermolen
LJ Parrish Press (2012)
ISBN 9780985742508

Reviewed by Daryn Watson for Reader Views (2/13)

Anne Irgens Vandermolen’s novel “She That Remains” is an intriguing story about two women whose minds are merged together through a highly risky and experimental brain transplant surgery. The first woman, Joan Gianelli, is a call girl who is frustrated with her high risk profession and who wants out of the prostitution business. Her decision to leave her pimp leads to almost fatal consequences.

The second woman, Katherine Wood, is an attractive woman in her late twenties who found out she has an advanced and deadly brain tumor. The news is devastating to her, especially with her failing relationship with her live-in boyfriend, Ted Bradley. Katherine’s prognosis is grim but she is given a second chance of life by a Dr. Roman Czensky at the Boerma Medical Center located in Boston, MA. Dr. Czensky has performed experimental brain transplants on monkeys and believes he can successfully operate on Katherine and Joan.

In theory, the procedure sounds promising, but not all the details and history of the “donor” in this case, Joan, are revealed to Katherine. After the procedure, a hemispherectomy, is completed, Katherine must re-learn basic functions such as an infant learns to walk, talk, read, etc.  However, the hospital staff, even Katherine, is initially unaware that Joan’s “donated” half-brain is still alive inside of Katherine’s mind. The more memory and physical functions Katherine recovers, the stronger Joan’s mind and will become.

Another wrinkle to the story is the deep physical and emotional attraction Dr. Czensky develops towards Katherine. These taboo feelings complicate matters even further for both Katherine and Joan as well as Dr. Czensky. After “gaining” some trust with the medical staff and the good doctor, Katherine/Joan embarks on a mission to find justice for Joan in her previous life.

“She That Remains” by Anne Irgens Vandermolen is a very well written novel that keeps the reader intrigued and full of anticipation for more information and action. It is easy to feel for Katherine and her recovery, especially while the devious “Joan” is there inside of her, plotting and scheming to find a way to freedom and to get her revenge. Dr. Czensky is a brilliant research doctor but very arrogant and self-centered. The book is a very good read and I recommend it to anyone who likes a good drama and mystery.

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