In her debut memoir, Mabry-Height recounts her struggles against racism and sexism as she worked to achieve success in the medical field.
The author was born to a poor, African-American family in rural North Carolina in the early 1950s. At the age of 5, she left her great-grandparents’ farm and moved North with her young, single mother to Brooklyn, New York. The early advice she received from her relatives—such as “If I wanted to be successful, I should ‘find a need and fill it’ ”—provided the foundation for the rest of her life. Despite discouragement from teachers and counselors, Mabry-Height pursued her dream of becoming a medical doctor; after graduating from the City University of New York, she went on to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. While in medical school, she received a grant to travel to Kenya as an aid worker, which she says was an eye-opening experience. She subsequently received her medical degree; however, she writes that despite her education, she still had to contend with employment discrimination and sexual harassment. Eventually, she took control of her career by founding her own medical and consulting practices in California. This book is quite brief, particularly for a memoir, and many chapters wrap up in less than four pages. As a result, readers looking for an in-depth remembrance may wish that this one explored some of its incidents in greater detail. However, the book’s conciseness makes it focused and direct. Ultimately, Mabry-Height seems more concerned with imparting lessons than telling her full life story. Almost every chapter contains explicit messages for aspiring doctors, or more generally, for any readers trying to succeed in a professional field. “Let this book teach you,” she writes in a representative passage, “that you must be able to reinvent yourself at some point, professionally and as an entrepreneur.” This quick read would make a fine gift for a graduate or anyone else who needs a bit of inspiration as she or he seeks to conquer life’s obstacles. The book also includes several black-and-white photographs.
A short memoir, but one that’s packed with advice.