Also of interest...in modern medical dramas
by Heather Harpham (Holt, $27)
The humor that courses through Heather Harpham’s moving memoir “has an aching edge to it,” said Nina Martyris in NPR.org. The author had been prepared to raise her first daughter alone before the baby was found to have a life-threatening blood disorder—a crisis that complicated Harpham’s already complex romance with the father. Throughout the wrenching drama, Harpham’s comic gift “glints through at dour moments,” deepening her meditation on the impermanence of the book’s titular emotion.
Into the Gray Zone
by Adrian Owen (Scribner, $28)
Neuroscientist Adrian Owen has written a “strangely uplifting” book about a nightmare condition, said Joshua Rothman in NewYorker.com. Owen and his team have learned that up to 20 percent of patients who appear to be in a vegetative state are actually conscious. Those who recover report that the loss of any ability to communicate can be horrible, but some found a sort of peace in the so-called gray zone, and their testimonies “evoke the mysteries of consciousness with tremendous power.”
by Vanessa Potter (Bloomsbury Sigma, $27)
Vanessa Potter’s account of losing her sight at 40 “reads like a thriller,” said Laura Freeman in The Times (U.K.). From the moment she wakes up one morning and sees only a fuzzy blur, “you are gripped and terrified,” watching her sink into near total blindness in just 72 hours. But Potter, a commercial film producer and mother of two, eventually overcomes her rare illness, and then slowly retrains herself to see. “What begins as a surreal nightmare of decline becomes a rallying triumph of will and spirit.”
by Stephen Westaby (Basic, $27)
Stephen Westaby’s memoir about his long career in cardiac medicine “will be a balm to the hearts of curmudgeons everywhere,” said Rachel Pearson in The New York Times. Resisting the calls for more empathetic doctors, the prickly Brit says he learned from an early failure to save a child that a heart surgeon must remain emotionally detached. Still, he can’t hide how upset he is to now have to watch patients die because Britain’s national health service won’t fund certain procedures.