The Cider House Rules by John Irving (21/48)

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Published in 1985, The Cider House Rules is set in the first half of the 20th century in the rural Maine town of St. Cloud’s. The novel’s main characters are Dr. Wilbur Larch, an obstetrician and founder of the town orphanage, and Homer Wells, Dr. Larch’s favorite orphan, who is never permanently adopted. 

The story begins with Homer’s early life at the orphanage and follows him as he comes of age upon leaving it. Homer’s attitude to Dr. Larch changes when he learns that the doctor is a reluctant, although conscientious, abortionist. The point…is that there are always multiple sets of rules for a given society. Heroism lies in discovering the right ones, whether they are posted on the wall or carved with scalpels, and committing yourself to follow them no matter what, wrote book critic Christopher Lehmann-Haupt in his review in The New York Times

Contributor: Monica Starkman from University of Michigan Medical School

Written by Ben Skute

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