A well-researched, compassionately observed study of intensive rehabilitation, its complexities and, most of all, its people.


Macenka, a Pulitzer Prize–nominated reporter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, details the leading edge of trauma treatment at the Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center, where service members with horrifying injuries receive sensitive, well-rounded care.

At McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Richmond, Va., the PRC—one of five around the country—provides intensive rehabilitative care to service members and veterans with severe injuries to more than one organ system, often including the brain. In late 2011, Macenka received approval to witness the PRC’s inner workings. Over 18 months, he followed administrators, doctors, therapists and staff as they treated several patients trying to find a new normal; those patients’ stories are told here in vivid detail. Macenka also describes the families’ points of view, from the first phone call with the bad news through the months of life-juggling rearrangements and the sometimes-heartbreaking decisions that must follow. Three key principles have made the Richmond PRC “the crown jewel in the VA”: “managing records quickly and efficiently, building relationships with the patients, and involving the family and other caregivers in the process.” This “relationship-based medicine,” much more personalized and extensive than most people get through managed care, is especially important for treating traumatic brain injuries, since—in a phrase used several times—no two brain injuries are alike. Some patients, despite everything the PRC can do, don’t survive; for others, marriages can fail, dreams fade, and bitterness can be difficult, though not impossible, to overcome. Well-written and absorbing, this book convincingly shows the value of relationship-based medicine and the high costs in time and money of severe, multiorgan injuries. Patients become people, and Macenka’s interviews show the heartening generosity and incredible dedication of caregivers, both outside and inside the Richmond PRC. Most Americans, of course, can’t access or can’t afford this crown-jewel treatment, a fact Macenka mentions but doesn’t dwell on; nevertheless, that topic might have been worth exploring. Hopefully, more trauma centers will follow PRC’s example.

A well-researched, compassionately observed study of intensive rehabilitation, its complexities and, most of all, its people.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1493635535

Page Count: 370

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?