I Can't Save You: A Memoir by Anthony Chin-Quee
Genre: memoir, medical, nonfiction
Publication: April 4, 2023; Riverhead Books
I thought that Anthony Chin-Quee, a Black surgeon, wrote this revealing and honest memoir with distinct audiences in mind. The medical community, for one, starting with those at the very top who make and keep the policies that affect the wellbeing of the others - the doctors, medical students, would-be medical students, hospital staff, and the patients themselves.
Then there are the very personal parts in the memoir that tackle his relationships with others, whether while training and working as a surgeon, in his personal life or in the dysfunctional, multi-racial West Indian family in which he grew up.
I view the book as a wake up call to the medical community in how they train and treat their staff and what they expect that may be just too much - the long hours working without sleep that could endanger both patient and doctor, for instance. The writing is intense as the author describes in a brutally honest way what he had to face with his patients, with other doctors and staff members, in the operating room, and in the hospital while working dangerously long shifts. Granted, some of his descriptions have some humor, in a kind of way.
And the other wake up call is to the society at large, which continues, based on his experiences, to seriously undermine and underestimate people of color, and their abilities and potential.
This book is a must read also, as I see it, for would be doctors, or for those already in the middle of their profession. It's an eye opener for newbies that is frank and honest, even in its brutal, no holds barred descriptions.
At the end of the book, I was happy for the author that he found his true path, benefiting from his grueling and challenging training to do what he truly loves - writing and using his way with words, leaving behind a debilitating profession, a toxic family member, and forming his own perfect family.
I finished the book with more appreciation for my own doctors and specialists, realizing what they must have gone through, the gauntlets they have to run, to reach and stay where they are.
About the Author