Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Book Review: At Least You Have Your Health

By Jami Denison

Since physician/author Madi Sinha’s debut novel, The White Coat Diaries (reviewed here), starred an intern, it’s only fitting that her sophomore book, At Least You Have Your Health, features a doctor post-residency. In both cases, the protagonists are Indian female doctors juggling personal and professional lives, as well as ethical concerns.

Dr. Maya Rao is a gynecologist with three young children, married to an assistant professor, living in an upscale suburb and dealing with the microaggressions that come with being a woman of Indian background married to a white man. One day, it all becomes too much for her, and she blows up at the wrong woman. When she’s suspended without pay for three months, she quits her hospital job and signs up to work at a concierge medical practice run by a wealthy mother from her daughter’s private school. 
The practice seems like a dream-come-true--flexible schedule, high salary—but her boss Amelia doesn’t believe in traditional medicine. Her web site sells things like expensive crystals to balance female rhythms that sometimes end up in clients’ most private body spaces. As Maya makes more and more concessions to Amelia’s business model, her marriage starts to suffer. And when a pregnant patient refuses to take Maya’s concerns seriously, she’s forced to confront how much she’s willing to sacrifice for a paycheck.

Sinha has a lot going on in this book, and mostly the elements work together well. As the daughter of a motel manager and a retail sales clerk, Maya became a doctor to please them, and is constantly trying to overcome her shame over her background. She presses her daughter Diya to make friends with the daughters of the wealthy women at the school. She uses her higher salary to buy organic meal kits and fancy purses. At the same time, there’s a professional trauma in her past that made her quit delivering babies that the reader knows she’ll eventually have to overcome. She’s a terrific character I’d love to see more of.

There were a few things I didn’t like about the book: some issues with point-of-view; some tone inconsistencies. Other than Maya’s assistant, aspiring medical student Esther, there isn’t a single woman who appears to have accurate working knowledge of female bodies. There are few scenes with the wealthy women who send their children to Diya’s school, but in those scenes, Sinha makes them seem ignorant. (It would have been nice to see an intelligent midwife in the book, too.) 

Overall, though, if you’re a fan of TV series or novels set in hospitals, or if you like books about busy moms juggling careers and children, pick up At Least You Have Your Health. If you’re a subscriber to Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop website, though, this one might not be for you. 

Thanks to Berkley for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.


The Reading Frenzy said...

Thanks for sharing. It looks interesting but your concerns make me less likely to give it a try. I know shallow of me LOL ;-)

Unknown said...

They are really minor quibbles, and probably just my own personal response. I wouldn't want you to miss out on a fun book because of them! It was a fun book! I just happen to know many women who are very well educated about their bodies, and a few terrific midwives!