by Adele Levine
“Run, Don’t Walk” is a memoir of Adele Levine’s time as a physical therapist at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a government-run hospital for disabled soldiers in the war. She chronicles a short period of her time while working with a few select… characters. The memoir is not overall an enlightening novel but it is certainly a unique memoir in that it briefly illuminates one of the best medical centers in the US.
I found this memoir to be strange. At times, I was not sure of the author’s purpose as she rambled about her insecurities and lack of decisiveness. This made for a frustrating and drawn-out start to the novel and it tended to permeate the story randomly for several pages. However, Adele’s story did improve towards the latter half because she focused less on herself and the particulars of hospital command and more on the actual soldiers. She began to give an account of the brave individuals in her work life and the events of their lives as they happened. The reader begins to see the heart of the hospital and why the PT’s love, and hate, their jobs.
As with most memoirs, the characters are not all “real” in that their whole identity is not revealed. Uncharacteristically, I was disappointed because the most poignant and likeable characters were composites. I attribute this to Adele’s ability to exude the personality of her patient so it was hard not to love them.
Overall, it was a decent read. The story did not have a particular climax or point which may throw off a lot of readers that enjoy structure to their novels. Adele’s writing style needs a little trimming so she can focus on the important aspects and succinctly describe them. I would recommend this novel if you were looking for a quick read about physical therapy as it relates to the military/ government or if you want a new perspective on the care of our veterans.
Rating: 3 1/2 Hoots
Title: Run, Don’t Walk: The Curious and Chaotic Life of a Physical Therapist Inside Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Author: Adele Levine
Number of Pages: 288
Original Release Date: 10 April 2014
M*A*S*H meets Scrubs in a sharply observant, darkly funny, and totally unique debut memoir from physical therapist Adele Levine.
In her six years at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Adele Levine rehabilitated soldiers admitted in worse and worse shape. As body armor and advanced trauma care helped save the lives—if not the limbs—of American soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, Walter Reed quickly became the world leader in amputee rehabilitation. But no matter the injury, physical therapy began the moment the soldiers emerged from surgery.
Days at Walter Reed were intense, chaotic, consuming, and heartbreaking, but they were also filled with camaraderie and humor. Working in a glassed-in fishbowl gymnasium, Levine, her colleagues, and their combat-injured patients were on display at every moment to tour groups, politicians, and celebrities. Some would shudder openly at the sight—but inside the glass and out of earshot, the PTs and the patients cracked jokes, played pranks, and compared stumps.
With dazzling storytelling, Run, Don’t Walk introduces a motley array of oddball characters including: Jim, a retired lieutenant-colonel who stays up late at night baking cake after cake, and the militant dietitian who is always after him; a surgeon who only speaks in farm analogies; a therapy dog gone rogue; —and Levine’s toughest patient, the wild, defiant Cosmo, who comes in with one leg amputated and his other leg shattered.
Entertaining, engrossing, and ultimately inspiring, Run, Don’t Walk is a fascinating look into a hidden world.
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*I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review*