FIRST, DO NO HARM

When should life-support be withdrawn? What level of medical care is appropriate for whom? These and other tough questions— too tough (or too hot) for one person to handle—are faced by ethics committees that now are as commonplace in hospitals as respirators and government regulations. Here, New York Times reporter Belkin tells how one such group deals with questions like these. Belkin spent three years observing the ethics committee's meetings at Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas, talking to doctors, committee members, patients and their families. Nearly all gave permission for their real names to be used, which says something about Belkin's empathy and discretion. Besides describing the dynamics of meetings and delving into the background of some members, the author focuses on a few patients whose plight the committee is asked to consider: Patrick, a 15- year-old with a chronic, incurable disorder of the digestive tract; Taylor, born at 25 weeks and weighing only 24 ounces; Armando, a young man with a bullet in his brain that has paralyzed him from the neck down; and Landon, a baby born with severe spina bifida. Decisions must be made, and Belkin shows how the committee makes them, demonstrating that there are never easy answers and sometimes no right ones. There are no perfectly happy endings, either: Patrick and Taylor die; Armando and Landon live, but the quality of their lives is debatable. Nevertheless, the narrative is not depressing, as the individual stories are always absorbing and Belkin relates them with warmth and understanding. A behind-the-scenes account that's hard to put down and difficult to forget.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-68538-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1992

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more