Heart in the Right Place: A Memoir Paperback – Aug 19 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Former U.S. Senate counsel Jourdan writes of giving up her fast-paced life in Washington to work in her father's family medical practice office in east Tennessee. "For forty years, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week," she writes, "Momma and Daddy ran a homemade, low paid 911 service for a large rural community. There was no such thing as a day off, ever." When her mother had a heart attack, leaving the front desk unmanned, Jourdan returned home to help keep the area's only doctor's office afloat while she recovered. What began as a two-day stay stretched out indefinitely, forcing Jourdan to learn to "calmly register nice people with hard jobs who routinely came in covered in hog or chicken blood." Missing Washington, she wrestles with questions of courage and loyalty, belonging and identity, and living with meaning and purpose. The demands of her new job test her, from the drama of triaging the waiting room and the tedium of negotiating the Medicare coding system to the loss of several favorite patients. In the end, she finds that she is after all her parents' daughter, possessing strength that earned her mother the nickname " Sarge," as well as her father's selfless devotion to this working-poor community. Jourdan's dispatches from the reception desk make for a stirring, beautiful memoir that is alternately hilarious and heartbreaking, and ultimately a triumph. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
One day she's hearing congressional testimony and attending black-tie fund-raisers, the next she's filing Medicare forms and mopping up bodily fluids. As the [...] child of a country doctor and his receptionist wife, Jourdan respected her parents' selfless commitment of caring for the disenfranchised people of east Tennessee, but she reveled in her glitzy life as a superstar lawyer in Washington, DC. When her mother suffered a heart attack, however, Jourdan was called home to help out for a "few days" that quickly turned into weeks, then months. Faced with the dilemma of forsaking a high-powered career that could influence matters on a national level for a menial job that directly affected the lives of one small town, Jourdan was surprised to discover that sometimes the greater good can best be served one person at a time. With lavish affection, genuine respect, and exuberant humor, Jourdan offers a zestfully compassionate portrait of a poor community rich in the ways of true humanity. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Writing about a small community where everyone knows everyone else and a hometown family physician, family run is also what makes this memoir so intriguing. Jourdan writes about her experiences in her father's medical practice with honesty, integrity, humour, and with a compassionate flair for the people they treat. No big office buildings with opulent furniture and expensive decorating and big medical bills to match. Back to a time when the town Doctor often didn't charge his patients if he knew they were indigent, and sometimes accepting "other" payments like a day of squirrel watching on the property of a man who wasn't quite right in his mind. Such a show of respect, compassion, and understanding on the part of Dr. Jourdan was a true showing of his moral beliefs and lessons he never forgot and applied to the very special patients in his practice.
Carolyn Jourdan has written with such vividness that it was an easy slip into the pages to walk amongst the words and feel them, snuggle into them and experience the Great Smoky Mountain area just like the generations of family who have resided there for years and years. Jourdan mentioned penning a sequel to Heart in the Right Place and I certainly hope she continues with it and sees it through to completion. I'll be first in line to pick it up. I would highly, highly recommend this beautifully written memoir for all ages. This is the type of memoir that will stick with me forever.
I suggest the author get hold of DVDs of the wonderful British series Doc Martin to see how a quirky rural medical practice should be presented.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
We meet and learn to love the patients in the practice such as the eccentric Miss Hiawatha and the kindly Mike who doesn't hardly know he is handicapped. And then there are the two friends Obie and Kermit. You never know what kind of predicament they are going to get themselves into next and what kind of injuries it's going to cause. Each time they come through the clinic door it's going to be something totally different. The big question on everyone's mind is, will Carolyn stay in eastern Tennessee where she earned $0 in one year or return to her high-power, six-figure job in Washington, DC?
It was recommended I get this book via Amazon's Customers Also Bought feature after I had purchased another book. I clicked on it and read the description. As a long-time medical office employee it sounded right up my alley. But it would appeal to anyone who enjoys sweet stories with quirky characters such as the Mitford series by Jan Karon or anyone who lives the TV series Northern Exposure or Ballykissangel. But these are very real people here, not those from fiction. I laughed and I cried, I read passages out loud to my husband, and I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning two nights in a row to finish it. I can't recommend this book enough. You will want to buy one for yourself and another as a gift for someone you care about.
The basic plot of this book follows a powerful Washington DC attorney (the author) who has to take a leave from her job as a Senate council to come back home to East Tennessee to help out her parents. Her father is a doctor in a small town just outside of Knoxville who offers care to anyone and everyone regardless of their ability to pay and he even takes things like chickens in trade. Because of that he can't afford to hire a receptionist when his wife suffers a heart attack and has to take some time off. The author plans on spending a few days helping out but days turn into months and she ends up getting very attached to the job.
As she tries to settle in to her new duties the author runs into a cast of characters that could never be called up from even the most fertile imagination. Besides Miss Hiawatha there is a farmer who has the worst luck in the world and a George Jones like character who gets drunk and drives his lawnmower down the four-lane highway. And those three are just the appetizers. There are parts of this book that will make you laugh so hard that you will cry. Of course with this being the story of a doctor's office there are other very sad stories that will make you cry for other reasons. This author has a distinct talent for causing her readers to get very attached to the characters that she writes about.
On the technical side this is a very well written book and it contains some very thought provoking chapters. The author put a lot of feeling into this book and it shows. Above all though this is just an enjoyable book about some wonderful and sometimes eccentric people who reside in East Tennessee. This was a very good book and it is one that will always hold a special place in my personal library.
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