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I enjoy reading and sharing what I read with my blog followers, so joining Net Galley helps me accomplish both. I try to find books with a health/medical theme although occasionally I will pick something just for fun. But I find that almost any story portrays some health related issues since it’s a universal concern.
Here are two stories, both memoirs, but vastly different. One is a private personal story, the other a public personal story.
Ms. Maynard’s story opened with a failed marriage/bad divorce saga with adult children torn between the two parents, persistent anger and bitterness, and attempts to ease the pain with a series of bad choices in lovers. Equally sad was her telling of a complicated and ultimately failed adoption attempt.
Finally she and we can breath a sigh of relief when she meets a man and seems to have found true love at last. But that comes to an abrupt halt when he is diagnosed with cancer.
From then on she poignantly describes a life turned upside down as she enters new territory as a caregiver. As she relates how their lives changed, we the readers are changed also, learning to recognize what is truly important in life. As Ms. Maynard writes,
“success, money, beauty, passion, adventure, possessions- have become immaterial. Breathing would be enough.”
Read this book if you want your assumptions about life and death to be challenged and changed. You may read an excerpt at this link
Dr. Pietro Bartolo practices medicine on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, in the Mediterranean Sea. Lampedusa, known for its friendly people, sunny skies, pristine beaches, and turquoise waters famous for fishing, seems an idyllic place to live, work, and visit.
But for the past 20 years, Dr.Bartolo has cared for not just residents and tourists, but for hundreds of refugees- people who risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean from northern Africa, fleeing poverty and political unrest. The lucky ones land on shore injured and sick. The unlucky ones wash ashore dead, having died en route or drowning after falling from a capsized or wrecked boat, sometimes only a few feet from shore.
In this memoir, Dr. Bartolo shares the stories of many of these people, giving them the names and faces that we don’t see watching news stories about the refugee crisis. He also shares his own life story of growing up on the island, leaving for medical school, and returning to raise a family and to practice medicine.
Dr. Bartolo’s story was also told in the documentary film FIRE AT SEA
He never expected to become the front-line help for hundreds of desperate people. With no specific training on how to manage an avalanche of desperate, sick, and injured refugees, and with little resources, he manages to put together a system for triaging, evaluating, and treating these people, then sending them on for more advanced medical care or to immigration centers in Europe.
For the less fortunate, he serves as medical examiner, to determine the cause of death for those who do not make it to Lampedusa alive; sometimes taking body parts to extract DNA to identify them, so families can be notified. He states he has never grown comfortable to this aspect of his job.
As a physician myself, I marvel at Dr. Bartolo’s caring and commitment to people who will never be able to repay him for his sacrifice. He approaches his work as a mission of mercy, and treats every person with the utmost respect, no matter their circumstance. Some of the people he treats become almost like family; he has even tried to adopt a couple of orphaned children but cannot due to legalities.
Dr. Bartolo’s story reads like a conversation. I think you will like him, and admire him for his dedication and selfless service. His life should encourage all of us to consider what we can each do to lessen someone else’s suffering.
Another book review from Net Galley is at this link-
I also review books for Tyndale Blog Network. for whom I reviewed FIRE ROAD, also on Net Galley. Here is the link to that review-
I received a free digital copy of these books (FIRE ROAD was a paper copy) in return for posting a frank review on my blog and/or social media.
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