Book Review: White Coat Fever: A Novel

Click for a larger image of White Coat Fever:  A Novel

by Roland S. Jefferson

    Publication Date:
    List Price: $25.99
    Format: Hardcover, 308 pages
    Classification: Fiction
    ISBN13: 9781438951522
    Imprint: AuthorHouse
    Publisher: Author Solutions
    Parent Company: Najafi Companies
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    Read a Description of White Coat Fever: A Novel

    Book Reviewed by Thumper

    Roland S. Jefferson, author of the classic The School on 103rd Street, is back on the scene with his latest novel, White Coat Fever. The title of the novel is derived from a term used for women looking to hook up with medical students. The novel takes place in the early 1960s during the Civil Right movement and involves three friends and the path they have chosen for themselves. White Coat Fever is one hell of a read. Despite a few missteps with a few historical events, Jefferson does a fine job telling the story and keeping true to its historical setting. I loved it.

    September Jackson is the living embodiment of Nina Simone classic "young, gifted, and black". Despite her upper middle class upbringing in California, and her stunning looks; September's self esteem is the victim of intra-racism due to her blue black skin complexion. September is a smart, somewhat nave young lady who wants to be a nurse. She earned a full academic scholarship to back up her dream. During her senior year of high school, September becomes romantically involved with one of her childhood friends, Benjamin Jones, aka Bennyboy. Bennyboy and Perry Mott, another childhood friend, are about to start medical school and run smack dab into the social epidemic known as white coat fever. During her freshman year at the University of Wisconsin, September is introduced and becomes heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Can September's relationship with Bennyboy survive the civil rights movement and white coat fever?

    When I picked up White Coat Fever, I did not know what to make of the book due to the book cover. I'm a book cover person. I actually do judge a book by its cover. If a book has an ugly cover, there's a great chance that I won't read it. The cover of White Coat Fever threw me because it looks cartoonish. I did not know what to expect, am I about to get into a novel or a cartoon/graphic novel? It did not take long for me to realize that the book was deeper than any cartoon I have seen. I should have known that I was not going to get a simple little romance with Jefferson. While the book summary gave the impression that I was going to be subjected to a basic romance, Jefferson delves into the different aspects and perspectives of what it meant to be black, educated and socially aware at one of the most promising and volatile time in American history.

    I was caught up in the novel from the first couple of pages. Jefferson had my attention when he introduced September Jackson because September is described as having green eyes and a black skin complexion. It's about time! I am so glad to see African-American characters, whether it be in books or movies that do not have the same shade brown or light skin complexion because we as a people come in various shades of brown and black. Jefferson used September to address the intra-racism that we, as African-Americans, still put ourselves through and at this late date, we should know better! September and the other main characters are soundly constructed. The only problem I have with September and her storyline is I am not sure that it warranted the amount of space Jefferson gave it. September is in over half of the novel and I thought that the book, via the title, was going to focus more on Bennyboy and Perry. I did not mind the time I spent with September, but I could not shake the nagging feeling that I should have been spending it with Perry and Bennyboy and their struggles with white coat fever. Bennyboy and Perry's storyline was as equally as fascinating as September's, but more time should have been spent on them.

    I appreciated the time Jefferson used to insure the story's historical setting was correct and most of the time he was on point. There were times, however, where he was off. For instance, Jefferson mentions daytime TV programs from the early 1960s. I was not born when the story takes place. I personally did not see what was on TV at that time. I did however have a father, who watched some of the soap operas with his grandmother, my great grandmother June. Besides Westerns, soap operas were my father's passion. He remembered the shows, the characters, who slept with who, who stole this or that. My father was a natural born storyteller. Besides the family history he knew and passed down to me, I got to hear about shows like The Love of Life, The Edge of Night, Search for Tomorrow, what a skank bitch Julie was on Days of Our Lives, or how conniving Lisa was on As the World Turns and the ultimate show with all of low down heifers in it, Peyton Place. I heard it all.

    Jefferson stepped into a minefield when he brought up the early 1960s soap operas. Jefferson, setting the mood, mentioned General Hospital and the Luke and Laura storyline. I knew he was way off base. General Hospital first aired in 1963. The Luke and Laura storyline happened during the 1980s. The characters' wedding was one of the biggest events in daytime TV history. It did not happen in early 1960s. Jefferson would have done better mentioning the show's names The Love of Life, or Search for Tomorrow, or Peyton Place and nothing else.

    The ending of White Coat Fever left me with the impression that there is more to come for September and Bennyboy. I wonder if Jefferson is going to use these characters as a device to explore the history or historical episodes of America told from the African-American perspective. I believe it could be successfully done with these characters. I wonder if plans of a sequel had anything to do with the layout of the novel, such as September getting more space than warranted because in the future of the "series" September plays a prominent role. If the novel is the start of a series, I'm rather looking forward to it. As for now, White Coat Fever stands wonderfully on its own.

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