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Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir

Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir

Carrie: This memoir is a triple play of personal history, medical narratives and a thoughtful symbolic look at healing. Growing up in a traumatic household gave Michele Harper a lot to overcome and to hide.  It made her want to be a fixer of broken things. Now as an ER doctor, she does that to the nth degree on a daily basis.  She includes various patient interactions that ultimately yield a life lesson.  There are a lot of gritty ER details, but she has a stillness to her, which comes through so clearly in her writing, that she must be an oasis of calm in that chaotic scene. What I love is how intentional she is about healing the whole person.  Cover blurb:  “In sharing the stories of her patients and her own life, Harper shows us that healing begins only after we are broken open ourselves. And she shows us with hopeful, heartbreaking clarity that it comes from healing each other.”

A New York Times Bestseller

A New York Times Notable Book

"Riveting, heartbreaking, sometimes difficult, always inspiring." --The New York Times Book Review

As seen/heard on Fresh Air, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, NBC Nightly News, MSNBC, Weekend Edition, and more

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.

Publication Date: 
July 7, 2020