Healing Paradise by Gay Courter

As WWII encroaches, Rozy braves judgment and trials, both personal and professional, to be one of only 4 women in her class at Cornell Medical School, finding passion for her work and a love that may not survive the rigors of her life as a doctor.

In Healing Paradise, Gay Courter has done a great job developing a most fascinating world, that of medical school in the late 1930s/early 1940s. I loved seeing the inner workings of medical school, and the ways in which Rozy and her friends fought against the institutionalized sexism they encountered. I also loved watching her romance with fellow med student Alexander develop, with the requisite challenging family dynamics being especially stressful.

What I appreciated about this book was how straightforward it was. Courter is aiming to tell a good story and gets out of the way admirably. And those are the books I enjoy the most, where I can just get lost in the story and not be distracted by clever wordplay or overblown literary ambitions.

Rozy decides to pursue pediatrics, and I found this particularly fascinating as a volunteer breastfeeding counselor. I’ve done some training in NICU protocol and so I really enjoyed seeing a glimpse into the way premature babies were cared for in the past. I shuddered when one doctor says he doesn’t feed preemies for a few days because they can’t handle it, and then cheered Rozy for refusing to agree with this bit of idiocy. I’m so used to reading books and watching TV shows that portray a medicalized view of pregnancy, birth, and the newborn phase as normal that it was refreshing to meet a character who was ahead of her time and following common sense about what babies need.

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