Author: Michele Harper
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: July 7, 2020
Book Description: An emergency room physician explores how a life of service to others taught her how to heal herself.
Michele Harper is a female, African American emergency room physician in a profession that is overwhelmingly male and white. Brought up in Washington, D.C., in a complicated family, she went to Harvard, where she met her husband. They stayed together through medical school until two months before she was scheduled to join the staff of a hospital in central Philadelphia, when he told her he couldn’t move with her. Her marriage at an end, Harper began her new life in a new city, in a new job, as a newly single woman.
In the ensuing years, as Harper learned to become an effective ER physician, bringing insight and empathy to every patient encounter, she came to understand that each of us is broken–physically, emotionally, psychically. How we recognize those breaks, how we try to mend them, and where we go from there are all crucial parts of the healing process.
The Beauty in Breaking is the poignant true story of Harper’s journey toward self-healing. Each of the patients Harper writes about taught her something important about recuperation and recovery. How to let go of fear even when the future is murky. How to tell the truth when it’s simpler to overlook it. How to understand that compassion isn’t the same as justice. As she shines a light on the systemic disenfranchisement of the patients she treats as they struggle to maintain their health and dignity, Harper comes to understand the importance of allowing ourselves to make peace with the past as we draw support from the present. In this hopeful, moving, and beautiful book, she passes along the precious, necessary lessons that she has learned as a daughter, a woman, and a physician.
Rating: 4 1/2 Stars
Review: This memoir from an ER Doctor is raw and beautiful, Michele Harper has given us all of her. The story tells of her difficult youth, a crumbling marriage and a prolific ER career.
Michele Harper did not have it easy growing up. While she grew up in a privileged environment, private school, her household held many secrets including an abusive father. She goes on to the ivy’s and goes onto marry her college sweetheart and spends her many years completing med school and residency. Upon graduation, as she is about to embark on her new life with her husband, he asks for a divorce. She decides to continue her move to Philadelphia and her new job.
We then get to the crux of the book, her amazing medical career. Each chapter centers on one patient. Harper is extremely honest, and the care she gives to her patients is breathtaking. She tells of cases of, PTSD, Severe Abuse, Pyschotic Breaks, Alcoholism, and Self Love. The major takeaway is the time and care Harper gives to her patients. My expectations of most doctors are to treat the symptoms and go on your merry way (granted I have not faced any major health challenges in my life to this point). Harper gives attention not only to the illness but is someone who takes the time to listen to, and ask questions, about their underlying issues.
I walked away from this book, wishing that Dr. Harper is someone I come across if I ever needed serious care. She is honest to a fault with her patients, and never belittles anyone that comes her way. All people in the medical field could learn from her and her stellar bed side manner,