I’m Listening

The Books

cover art for Listen, Slowly

Listen, Slowly

Author: Thanhha Lai

Genre: Fiction; Middle Grade

Publisher: HarperCollins

Published: February 17, 2015

Number of Pages: 272

It’s summertime and Mai is ready to spend time on the beach, hang out with her friends, and to finally be a teenager. What Mai isn’t ready for? Getting shipped off to a small Vietnam village so she can keep her grandmother company. Mai knows that this trip is important to Bà, but still, why is this Mai’s responsibility? She’s twelve. She doesn’t even speak Vietnamese!

Secretly, though, Mai can understand Vietnamese. A little bit. If the person speaks slowly.

cover art for Every Patient Tells a Story

Every Patient Tells a Story

Author: Lisa Sanders

Genre: Nonfiction; Science; Health

Publisher: Harmony

Published: July 31, 2009

Number of Pages: 304

Lisa Sanders, M.D. is a physician specializing in internal medicine. In 2002, she began writing a column for The New York Times called Diagnosis. The column focuses on modern medical mysteries that doctors were eventually able to solve. (If this sounds oddly like the T.V. series House, M.D., you may be interested to know she was sometimes asked to consult for the show.)

This book uses several of the stories from her column as a lens for Sanders to talk about the modern healthcare system in a way that is relevant to the general public. It was originally published in 2009, so I’m not sure how much has changed since then, especially in the last couple years. All the same, I found this book to be very interesting, educational, and helpful.

The Ties That Bind

In Listen, Slowly, Mai is plunged into a place far from home where everything is different. Sure, her family is Vietnamese-American. Her Grandmother only speaks Vietnamese. Mai knows how to use chopsticks. None of that is the same as actually being in Vietnam though. Suddenly Mai has to navigate a hot, swampy place, with strange customs, unfamiliar foods, and a difficult language. She’s forced to slow down, reassess, and figure out how to handle each new thing that’s thrown at her. Step by step. Day by day. 

In Every Patient Tells a Story, Lisa Sanders dives into the American healthcare system, how doctors are trained, how illnesses are diagnosed, and how patients are treated. Sanders stresses the importance of slowing down, getting to know a patient and his or her story, and working together to reach a diagnosis and decide on treatment. She explains multiple times that physical examinations are very important and can often bring to light signs or symptoms that won’t show up on an expensive or time-consuming lab test. Many of the medical mysteries she presents were only solved because the doctors involved took the time to slow down, reassess, and figure out how each new symptom fits in. Step by step. Day by day.

Although one is a middle-grade novel and the other is nonfiction about medical mysteries and modern healthcare, these books share a common overall message. Slow down. Listen to what other people have to say and how they are feeling. It could make all the difference.

Up Next

One Two Three by Laurie Frankel and I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf by Grant Snider

merged cover art for One Two Three and I Will Judge You By Your Bookshelves

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