Real life can’t get more compelling or shattering than in a pediatric emergency room, and Bonadio’s quiet, straightforward style makes the daily drama clear.
An emergency-medicine physician at the Children’s Hospital of St. Paul, Minnesota, Bonadio wonders daily at the privilege of parenting—the chance “to go beyond our mortal, flawed, and otherwise insignificant lives, to touch a hand on something infinite.” He is also staggered by its power: “there is no force in all creation more powerful or compelling or inspiring than a mother urging the needs of her child.” The death of a six-year-old hit by a car, a pregnant adolescent who attempts suicide, a toddler who nearly drowns—all of these tragedies are starting points for Bonadio’s musings on life and its lessons. The toll exacted on emergency-room staff is clear: Bonadio relates a nerve-wracking account of tracking down a teenager (a girl whose broken neck was overlooked by a colleague) by phone: “Let me talk to your brother. I want you to hand him the phone, then go lie down on your back, flat on the floor—look straight up at the ceiling, and don’t move or get up. Do you understand?”
A riveting account.