A Reader Opines: Run, Don’t Walk by Adele Levine

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Run, Don’t Walk: The Curious and Chaotic Life of a Physical Therapist Inside Walter Reed Army Medical Center by Adele Levine
Published: April 10th 2014 by Avery (first published February 20th 2014)
Genre: Memoir | Military
My Rating: 3 of 5 stars

As I do research for the novel I’m working on, I’ve discovered some fascinating books. Adele Levine’s Run, Don’t Walk is one such jewel. You might think reading about wounded warriors would be depressing, but Levine manages to reveal the heartache with humor and a dose of humanity.

Summary taken from Goodreads:
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.

This book is educational, entertaining, emotional and satisfying. Levine’s writing style is approachable, easy to digest. However, the narrative is circuitous, non-linear, and I found that a bit jarring at times. Despite that, the people she described became tangible and the stories she shared were engrossing.

Wounded vets walk our streets, are interviewed on news channels and populate television commercials, but what we see is far different from what Ms. Levine beheld in the amputee clinic. At times my brain wanted to shut out what she was describing, but these men and women deserve our notice. They literally gave parts of themselves for their country.

If you like memoirs and aren’t squeamish, this book is a must read.

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