About the Book:
Dr. Camille Weller is the first African American female attending in the trauma surgical department at the Medical College of Virginia. On her first day, she joins the Six-Liter Club - a reference to an elite group of doctors who have saved a patient after the patient loses six-liters of blood. Exhilarated, she decides to do something about the antiquated "doctors" and "nurses" signs on the locker room doors and changes clothes with the "doctors." She'll also blow their prejudices about skin color out of the water. Yet Camille has far more to overcome than preconceived notions about her skin color or sex...she's having nightmares about her childhood in the Congo, a dark closet, whispered words, and strong arms holding her back.
Wow, is all I can say. Ok, I'll say more than that. When I picked up this book, I had forgotten who sent it to me (Thanks Rebecca from Glass Roads!) and wasn't sure what to expect, except for what I read on the back. While many of the review books I get are from Christian publishers and/or publicists, recently some general market folks have gotten me on their list, so I wasn't sure in which category this book belonged. Camille is the daughter of a missionary, and one of the characters we meet early on seems to be the stereotypical African-American church lady. Camille explains to this character, the mother of one her gunshot patients, that she believes in science, not in God.
The book follows Camille through her first few months as an attending surgeon; months when she starts having panic attacks and flashbacks to her childhood. The book has some chapters set in the Congo in 1964 and some set in Virginia in 1984. The chapters about Camille are told in the first person; those about other characters, in the third person.
Camille is about six years older than I am. She was one of the first wave of women to push their way into high-level jobs. Camille is not only the first African-American attending surgeon at her hospital, she is the first woman. She has spent her entire medical school and residency period trying to "out-boy" the boys; not allowing herself to show her feminine side, and choosing to do things (like smoking cigars) that she didn't like. Another woman doctor comes to her, the doctor has a lump in her breast and wants a lumpectomy, not a mastectomy and is hoping a woman surgeon will see it her way.
Camille has a boyfriend who is a doctor at the same hospital. Whenever they try to become intimate, she has a panic attack. He encourages her to get therapy and she does and through the therapy and as a result of meeting people who knew about her life in the Congo, she ends up remembering what she forgot and becoming at peace with God and with herself.
As I said before, when reading this book, I wasn't sure where I got it. Through most of the book, I was pretty convinced it must have been a secular publisher--Camille never actually DID it but her boyfriend sure wanted to--and other characters did (though we didn't get a blow-by-blow). Faith plays no part in Camille's life through most of the book, but at the end, she does find faith, along with her memories. I looked up the publisher and as I figured when I saw the name of the publicist, it is a Christian imprint. I really think this is a book that even a non-Christian could read and enjoy.
I loved watching Camille grow through this book, and the struggle she had between being a professional and a woman mirror the stories women attorneys tell me. I had to smile when Camille had a Tab at a restaurant--that stuff was nasty, but before Diet Coke that was THE diet drink places would have.
About the Author: Harry Kraus has brought surgical skill to medical missions on four continents. Most recently, he returned to Somalia for a short stay. His family (wife, Kris, and three sons) is contemplating a return to Kenya for three years. He could stay in Virginia, building his surgical practice, storing wealth and acquiring house after house, car after car - but that isn't where Harry's heart lies.
Harry Kraus watched the Twin Towers fall on 9/11. He was at Ground Zero providing medical services to those who managed to escape the falling buildings. He saw firsthand the result of human relationships that lack love for fellow man. He determined to spend his life pouring love into human hearts. In Africa, he is often asked by Muslim patients why he would come halfway around the world to take care of them for no pay. Harry smiles. He tells them about the unconditional love He received from a Savior.