Book Review: Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert
Updated: Jul 28, 2020
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You can also find Erica at the following links:
Author website: https://www.medicineandmiraclesinthehighdesert.com/
Professional website: http://www.ericaelliottmd.com/
A short PBS Interview is also available, if you would like to learn more and hear from the author, herself.
Now, for my review!
Erica M. Elliott, MD is the author of Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert: My Life Among the Navajo People. The first of a 4-series memoir, Erica presents her journey as a young woman wanting to engage with life, though not certain of her purpose. She takes us back in time to the 60's when she accepted a teaching position on the Navajo Reservation near Canyon de Chelly. Though not always perfect, Erica found many perfect moments that drew her to fall in love with the People and the canyon.
At first, the cultural shock and divide was too much. She had a deep belief that all humans were the same, and admits in many ways they are, but culture is a construct that can separate us and create deep misunderstandings that can hurt rather than enlighten. After advice from her father to stick it out for three months, not only did Erica agree, but she completely changed her mindset from trying to connect from her point of view to learning the culture of the Navajo and meeting them where they were comfortable.
Her last summer in Canyon de Chelly, Erica fully immersed herself with a sheep-herding family which provided lessons of hard, but gratifying work and dedication with minimal resources. The deep soul searching she was able to do that summer led her away from the Navajo, but not forever. Erica finds her way with the Peace Corp to a remote village in the Andes of South America, and discovers her true purpose: She wants to be a doctor.
Erica leads us back to the Navajo with her first job that is horrifying and satisfying, but mostly exhausting. Unfortunately, she can't stay, but before she leaves she's presented with a ceremony in thanks, one that, in the order of the prayer, gives her a life she thought she would be too old for, including a baby boy.
My rating: 4/5
This story was engaging, and the in depth look at a culture that has been almost lost to time and modernization was priceless. My rating comes from a place of personal preference. I had a challenge with some of the transitions of the story that felt like a tangent in a conversation that has a valid point, but feels disjointed. Also, the formatting of the book was blog style, with block paragraphs separated by a spaced line, rather than connected and indented. For me, these spaces felt like long pauses and made it difficult to truly get into the flow of the writing.
*I received this product for free in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
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Also, see the review and giveaway post for Dancing Between the Beats posted on 7/12/2020 and running 7/12-7/22/2020