The Girl Without a Name by Sandra Block (Book Review)

girl without a name

The Girl Without a Name by Sandra Block is the second novel featuring Dr. Zoe Goldman, the protagonist from the highly acclaimed Little Black Lies. The Girl Without a Name picks up little over a year after the events of Little Black Lies and Zoe Goldman tries to put her life and her career back together.

“…We call her Jane, because she can’t tell us her name.
Can’t or won’t, I’m not sure. She lies in a hospital bed, a strangely old expression upon her teenaged face. We don’t know her age either. Twelve, fourteen maybe. A navy-blue hospital blanket sits across her knees in a neat square like a picnic blanket…”

Zoe Goldman is back on her rounds, the scar on her neck a reminder of what can happen in the psych ward. Though the circumstances that produced that moment were not likely to happen again. But Zoe is seeing a psychiatrist herself, the irony not escaping her. A shrink seeing a shrink. But the possibility of PTSD is strong and for now, she is a doctor on probation. Watched and double guessed.

Then a highly unusual case comes along. A young African American girl if found wandering the streets of Buffalo in a catatonic state. She is brought to the hospital for observation and days pass without anyone coming forward to claim her. Zoe’s treatment may be the last hope at finding out who the girl is. Only when the girl comes to, the situation only gets stranger. When conventional treatment fails, Zoe takes into her own hands to find out who Jane Doe is. Piece by confusing piece she begins to find the puzzle behind the young girl. But her time is running out and she has very few people who believe in her. Is Zoe really finding out the truth or is it her own psychosis that is creating another obsession with a patient. An obsession that led to her own attack.

Dr. Zoe Goldman is not your normal detective. Mostly because she is not a detective. She is not out to solve a murder or a kidnapping or any of the sort. She is out to help her patient and in doing so she has to face the mysteries that come with dealing with the darker side of mankind. Only now Zoe is damaged. Hurt and betrayed. Not only by others but by her own self. By her emotions and her intellect. Two things she had the most confidence in. In The Girl Without a Name Goldman is confronted with the concept of throwaway children. Forgotten and let down by a system created to help them. Abandoned by their families and then by the rest of the world. Jane Doe is just another in a long line of missing and abused children. Only Jane is now in Zoe’s hands and Dr. Goldman finds she cannot turn away.

There is also a really good mystery here. A puzzle of deceit and lies that has to be unraveled if there is any hope of saving Jane Doe. But our protagonist uses the highways and byways of the psyche to find her answers.

A terrific and interesting read. The character and storylines have grown from the debut novel and promise this to be a series not to be missed!

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