I hadn’t planned on writing book reviews when I started this blog. I love to read so I started recommending health and medical books that I thought sounded interesting. After reading one myself, I thought it would make a good blog post, so my first book review was Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and The Making of a Medical Examiner- a review of words worth sharing
After that, I assumed I would review non-fiction medical books, and most of them have been. I have reviewed memoirs and biographies, medical history, health advice, dying, vaccination, nutrition, and medical care. I didn’t expect to review fiction, but I have.
That shouldn’t have seemed strange, since most fiction is based on real life, which is full of twists and turns related to our health and well being. Much if not all of what we do is based on our health, which can change suddenly and unexpectedly, and turn our lives upside down. Consider how many TV dramas are based in hospitals, involving health care workers, and sick or injured people.
Here are excerpts and links to 3 of my reviews of books that
explore health in fiction
My Sister’s Keeper– a novel by Jodi Picoult
Now I didn’t actually review this book. I used an excerpt in a post about hair loss.
The book tackles several cutting edge health technologies that can create touchy ethical issues that I haven’t dealt with here, but if I do, I’ll revisit this book.
Here is what I did write about My Sister’s Keeper ,a novel that touches on several medical themes including cancer, genetic engineering, organ donation, and medical autonomy. The book was also a movie which I haven’t seen yet.
The story is about Kate, an adolescent who as a toddler developed a rare form of leukemia, and has spent the majority of her life either in the hospital getting treatment or recovering from them. After yet another chemotherapy regimen, she has lost her hair.
One day her mother, Sara, offers to take Kate and her younger sister Anna to the mall for a day out. Kate refuses.
“Don’t say it. Don’t tell me that nobody’s going to stare at me, because they will. Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter because it does. And don’t tell me I look fine because that’s a lie.” Her eyes, lash-bare, fill with tears. “I’m a freak, Mom. Look at me.”
Sara looks at her and says, “Well, we can fix this.”
“She walks out of the room followed by Kate and Anna. She finds a pair of ancient electric grooming clippers, plugs them in, and cuts a swath right down the middle of her own scalp.
“Mom”, Kate gasps.
With another swipe of the razor, Kate starts to smile. She points out a spot Sara missed. Anna crawls onto Sara’s lap. “Me next,” she begs.”
As Sara later remembers:
“An hour later, we walk through the mall holding hands, a trio of bald girls. We stay for hours. Everywhere we go, heads turn and voices whisper. We are beautiful, times three.”
Say Goodbye for Now- a novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde
I was drawn to this book because the main character is a woman physician. I started it just for pleasure, but once drawn into the story, I knew I wanted to review it for the blog. Here’s how my review starts:
In 1959, Dr. Lucille Armstrong, or Dr. Lucy as she is called, practices medicine of sorts in a small Texas town. Although she is a “doctor of human beings”, she spends most of her time taking care of stray and injured animals.
To support them and herself, she occasionally treats people; “ it’s not a hobby, I do it for the money.” But because “people there didn’t take well to a woman doctor”, her patients are not always the town’s model citizens.
Dr. Lucy lives alone except for the menagerie of injured animals she has doctored back to life. She likes her life the way it is, until she opens her home to three unexpected and unlikely guests.
Continue the review here-
Labor Day-a novel by Joyce Maynard
Leaving for a trip, I bought a book to read on the airplane. After reading a few pages, I realized it was also a movie I had seen. So my subsequent review was a book/movie review. The medical themes in this book/movie were subtle, but no less real.
Here is some of what I wrote:
Henry, who narrates the story, lives with his divorced mom in a small town. At 13, Henry seems more mature than he should need to be, while his mother Adele seems childish and naive for a grown woman. As the story unfolds, you begin to wonder if Adele’s eccentric behavior is due to something more than immaturity.
Adele and Henry are in their small town store buying clothes for school when a man they don’t know approaches them asking for help. Frank seems nice enough and asking for help might not be a problem except for the fact that is is bleeding, and evasive about why.
He asks Adele to take him to her house and either due to fear or poor judgement, she says yes. Both she and Henry seem to realize that something dramatic is about to change in their lives, but what it is, they can only guess at this point.
You can read the entire post here.
You can probably borrow these books from your local library- I do. But if you do decide to buy books, please consider the affiliate links here and on the resource page. Purchases through them help support this blog and help share the HEART of health.