How To Save A Life
The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper (Riverhead Books)
September 1, 2020
Dear Mr. Hemingway,
Every time I read a memoir I say to myself, “ Kelly…..why don’t you do this more often?” I have always been fascinated by other people’s stories…. Sometimes it’s me being nosey 🤣🤣, but mostly I enjoy reading about someone else's journey and perspective on life. Memoirs to me ignite empathy and understanding. They often bring to the surface, unexplored feelings I never even knew I had. Whether I finish someone’s story feeling inspired, sad, horrified or utterly joyous, I am one step closer to understanding the human spirit.
I recently read Dr. Michele Harper’s medical memoir, The Beauty in Breaking. Dr. Harper is an African American, Harvard-educated ER doctor. Mr. Hemingway... you could have easily swapped stories with this woman. Like Dr. Harper, I am sure you saw your share of emergencies while driving an ambulance for the American Red Cross in Italy during the first World War. You even experienced your own traumas when you were hit with a mortar shell (I hear you even saved a piece of the shrapnel) and survived two consecutive plane crashes. To say you cheated death a few times is an understatement. From the war torn battlefields in the 1900s to the modern day ER battlefields, you and Dr. Harper could probably chit-chat all night long. I have digressed...once again. Lets get on with it.
In her memoir, Dr. Harper does a wonderful job weaving together her abusive childhood and past relationships with the wide variety of patients she has treated in the ER. Her experience working as a physician in a hospital as a Black woman and the ethical boundaries that are pushed in such an intense setting was extremely eye opening. Dr. Harper also brings to light the racism and sexism she experienced and witnessed in her career and reveals the flaws that exist in our healthcare systems today.
What I truly loved about Dr. Harper’s memoir was how her encounters with patients helped her with understanding her own trauma and relationships. At times, I felt like I was in the middle of a Medical TV Drama. The intensity of waiting for your next patient to come crashing through the hospital door, to the painstakingly devastating outcomes that are often endured, Dr. Harper’s medical details are not for the faint hearted. However, what her book offers that most medical dramas lack, is the human connection to her patients. Day in and day out, Dr, Harper worked on healing her patients. It was through this process of remedying and restoring health in others that she truly began to heal herself. I love how she incorporates her yoga practice into her medical practice. Like medicine, she believes that yoga too, needs to be practiced everyday for optimal gains. Through the patients she comes in contact with everyday and her selfcare journey, she taps into the value of truth and happiness. Her writing is intellectual, thought provoking and filled with compassion. I am thrilled to have Dr. Harper’s book on my bookshelf.
Until next time my friend!
Your Biggest Fan,
P.S. I not only enjoyed reading this book, but I also enjoyed the audio version as well. If you are an audio book enthusiast, check out Libro.fm for all your listening needs. Your purchases support your local bookstore of choice 🤗🤗🤗.