As I geared up to read Dr. Michele Harper’s Memoir, I experienced some apprehension...
for fear of being thrown into hospital scenes that I (and most others) have painfully witnessed more often than usual on the nightly news or in dreams because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although similar scenes are depicted in the book, Dr. Harper does so with empathy while offering detailed and revealing accounts of the patients she treats. Simultaneously, she seamlessly intertwines her own story of “brokenness”—one that stems from childhood trauma, breakups, and professional setbacks—and her healing journey.
Dr. Harper cares for a whole range of characters, from innocent children to deeply troubled veterans, all of whom enter her emergency room in some state or degree of “brokenness.”
Reading about each of their unique stories and the expert and compassionate treatment Harper provides was often moving, but I was most intrigued by how she benefits from her patients.
They are not exactly providing life-saving care, but the semiconscious two-year-old or the burned-out caregiver alike do help her gain meaningful insights into her own pain and, importantly, how to move on in a healthy way. I was surprised by this kind of reciprocity, but it proves how we all have something to give to or learn from others.
What I did anticipate, however, was the racism and sexism Dr. Harper (a young Black woman) encountered in the medical field, one that is primarily dominated by white privileged men. Although this does not play a major role in the story she tells in this memoir, I connected with the social consciousness she demonstrates throughout the book.
Specifically, I appreciated how that awareness extends beyond herself to her patients; Harper thought-provokingly illuminates how social ailments like racism, sexism, and poverty have real adverse effects on people physiologically and emotionally—tragically contributing to our “brokenness” in one way or another.
Ultimately, though, Dr. Harper’s vocation as a healer allows her to alleviate some of that suffering and, hopefully, help put people on the path to recovery as she navigates that path herself. Arriving at the end of the story, I emerged with a sense of hope and a reaffirmed belief that adversity can provide us with the resilience needed to become freer and truer versions of ourselves.
– Sarah W, NEW BOOK JOY Guest Contributor
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ABOUT THE GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
Sarah White recently graduated from Roosevelt University with a bachelor’s degree in political science.
She is still on that trying journey figuring out what she wants to do with the rest of her life.
In the meantime, she deeply enjoys writing, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.
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