Saturday, February 25, 2012

Good In A Crisis: Book Review

This week, I finished a terrific, funny, and heart-warming new biography by Margaret Overton, called, "Good In A Crisis" (Bloomsbury Books, 2012). Overton tells the story of a five year period right around age 50. During this period of a few years, she copes with a difficult divorce, finishes launching her two daughters as a single parent, rebuilds her career as an anaesthesiologist, copes with her mother's aging issues, and deals with the death of close friends. In addition, she develops and comes back from a brain aneurysm. Remarkably, Overton achieves all of these things while retaining a wicked sense of humor.
The book tells a remarkable story of triumph with refreshing honesty. She often doesn't feel heroic. She can feel overwhelmed, angry, and fearful. She can laugh about mistakes made. She looks to redefine herself after the end of her long-term marriage, and tells funny, moving, and even some cautionary tales about her dating experiences on I love the descriptions of the dates, including one she identified as Eeyore, due to his tales of woe. I giggled over Overton's reflections about growing older ,and her discomfort with people whose faces look a bit odd after plastic surgery, just slightly android.
The story is set in downtown Chicago, where Overton lives and practices at a hospital. There is a reference to her not giving up hope. After all, she is a Cubs fan, and we know how they do hang onto hope. The book gives you a slice of life in downtown Chicago, as she reclaims a neighborhood after her divorce, multiple moves, and tries to create a sense of home again.
Overton is a great study in reinventing yourself and your life after loss and unexpected change. She keeps her sense of humor, despite the gravest of circumstances. Overton is not only a physician, but also has an MFA in Writing. This is her first book. I hope there will be others.
I enjoyed Overton's openness, vulnerability, and wit. It's a quick read that makes you reflect about the humanity and fragility of life, and on some of the random hits that happen. Sometimes ALL we can choose is our attitude: to go forward and try to get polished up by the experiences, rather than bitter. And, of course, we can hope to hang onto our ability to laugh about it later, just as Margaret clearly has.

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