Prescription: Read. Laugh. Cry. Repeat.

READ REVIEW

IN THE SPACE BETWEEN MOMENTS

FINDING JOY AND MEANING IN MEDICINE

A trainee doctor combats burnout with heartening stories of how medical professionals make a difference in patients’ lives.

Debut author Sinha wrote these seven concise, well-crafted pieces while he was in internal medicine residency training at Yale New Haven Hospital. As a new intern, he had “the energy of a lively puppy,” but long hours spent with the ill and dying soon took a toll. Burnout was all around him; he even wrote an exposé on physician suicide rates for the New York Times. Worried that happiness couldn’t coexist with medicine, he was determined to search for joy in the context of life-threatening illnesses. In “Urine Trouble,” the funniest anecdote, a man called Harry, who was summoned to court for public urination, faked a seizure to go free. Cleared of neurological problems but suffering from cognitive impairment, he remained on the ward as a “social admit.” Harry refused to shower until Sinha agreed to accompany him to the rooftop healing garden—where he promptly urinated into a stream. “Nails and Screw-ups” has a similarly tidy, full-circle structure, opening and closing with scenes of the author cutting the toenails of Michael, a morbidly obese patient at the VA clinic. In between, Sinha regretted that his poor medication decision landed the man with hefty hospital bills. The author is always cognizant of how comedy and tragedy alternate, or even overlap, in emergency situations. Other tales see him saving Christmas for Carol, who accidentally mixed whiskey and Valium; watching an intern say the Lord’s Prayer with Raymond, dying of an abdominal infection; and helping a family make the decision to take cancer patient Ted off life support. These punchy essays (five of which have been previously published on websites) glisten with just-right details, dialogue, and characterization. Sinha also pays tribute to Yogesh, a chief resident who showed “empathy, vulnerability, and grace” while dying of brain cancer. A closing letter to his future self returns to the Introduction’s themes by warning against “the ever-present threat of crippling cynicism.” The only problem with the book? It’s too short—let’s hope a few more years in practice will give the author sufficient material for a full-length work.

Prescription: Read. Laugh. Cry. Repeat.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2018

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 69

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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

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UNTAMED

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

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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