Friday, May 20, 2011

Book Review: This Won't Hurt a Bit

I've been reading fellow Wellesley alum Dr. Michelle Au's blog The Underwear Drawer for years now (she's been keeping it over 10 years), and I was very excited when I learned her new book This Won't Hurt a Bit was being released. Last week my sister Ariane and I went to her booksigning at Columbia (see if you can pick us out in the picture in the link!) and picked up a copy of her book. I have a huge pile of books on my nightstand, but I made a point to put Michelle's book at the top of the pile, and I'm proud to report I finished it in a week! {You must understand that this is most impressive as it's taken me nearly 6 months to finish Eclipse.}.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the book! It had just enough seriousness interspersed with Michelle's dry humor and most importantly, as a mom myself, I felt a connection with her recurring struggle with the challenge of "having it all." Last fall I started a bit of discussion on my Facebook wall when I posted an excerpt from Michelle's observation on this topic: 

"And that's what working parenthood feels like a lot of the time. Trying to do two important jobs in parallel, and half-assing both of them."

Michelle delves deeper into this sentiment in the book, and while I'm currently staying at home with Nia full-time, Michelle's honest thoughts on trying to balance work and family are exactly what makes me not want to work for someone else, especially when she discusses childcare. She laments: 

"Our entire weekly schedule, our entire day-to-day existence, hinges on the fact that we have childcare, and that while Joe and I work, there is someone to stay home with Cal." 

Having explored childcare options in NYC and understanding that it could be nearly half of my take-home pay I completely understand where she's coming from and I agree wholeheartedly when she expressed, "The message I get wholeheartedly from society is clear: the ability to juggle working motherhood successfully is contingent upon having the right kind of job."

Michelle doesn't pretend to have advice or know the answers to the challenges working mothers face, but her candidness allows us to know we aren't alone in this ongoing internal dialogue.

Apart from the working mother theme, I appreciated how Michelle broke down the medical school process for the average reader. I have a few dr./mom friends and this helped me understand a lot of what they must be going through. I look at them in awe now! 

Throughout the book Michelle poignantly highlights various patient interactions she has and at times I could even feel myself catch my breath with a saddened outcome or her quick-paced retelling of a harried scenario. In the same way patients must come in and out of Michelle's daily experience she did the same for her readers.

Michelle's quote sums up what I've thought about on my own following the rare times I've had to be inside of a hospital: 

"Consider . . . all that is happening in hospitals around the city at this very moment, yet outside here in the real world, life goes on as usual." 

I highly recommend This Won't Hurt a Bit, and I hope my readers include it on their summer reading list. 


  1. great review, i'm definitely putting this on my summer reading list!

  2. @Anna Thank you Anna! You should check out her blog too - very funny and inspiring!