DAMAGES

ONE FAMILY'S LEGAL STRUGGLES IN THE WORLD OF MEDICINE

A richly detailed account of a medical malpractice suit that reveals how human-energy-intensive, expensive, and inefficient the medical liability system can be. Werth, a business and science writer (The Billion-Dollar Molecule, 1994), has written an up-close and personal narrative involving the lives of a large, ever-changing cast of characters. He met the Sabias, a working-class couple and their profoundly brain-damaged and physically handicapped son, Tony, through their lawyer, Michael Koskoff, a prominent Connecticut medical malpractice attorney. Tony had an extremely difficult birth and his twin brother was stillborn. Using in-depth interviews, medical records, court documents, and deposition transcripts, Werth has reconstructed dramatic scenes spanning the years from 1983, when the Sabias had their first date (she invited him to pull off I-95 for coffee after hearing him on her CB radio), to 1996, three years after the settlement of their lawsuit against Norwalk Hospital. Besides creating a vivid picture of the Sabias, Werth takes the reader inside the minds of the lawyers at Koskoff's firm, and even into the heart of Dr. Maryellen Humes, who delivered Tony. (Humes's battle with her medical malpractice insurance carrier is a story unto itself.) There are no real villains here, just a host of individuals in an imperfect system trying to protect their own interests. While the Sabias' marriage nearly founders, for six and a half years lawyers on both sides prepare for the trial that no one wants. Medical experts are consulted and depositions are taken, not to discover the truth about what happened to Tony but to construct a persuasive theory. After prolonged maneuvering and delayed trial dates, both sides at last agree to try mediation, a process that soon leads to resolution of the case. Never resolved is just how Tony's brain was damaged, but at least the Sabias received money to care for their helpless son. A gripping, page-turning story, and a revealing and troubling look at our medical liability system.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-684-80769-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1997

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    

 

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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