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Check It Out: Rough Sleepers by Tracy Kidder

This is Kelsey Patterson with the Sioux City Public Library and you’re listening to Check It Out.

Today, I’m recommending Rough Sleepers by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tracy Kidderone of twelve books featured for Adult Summer Reading 2023.

Dubbed a “master of the nonfiction narrative” by The Baltimore Sun, Kidder’s latest shows how one person can make a difference, as he tells the story of Dr. Jim O’Connell, a gifted man who invented ways to create a community of care for Boston’s unhoused population. A one-time philosophy graduate student and avid Camus-quoter turned Harvard-educated physician, Dr. O’Connell was nearing the end of his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital when the chief of medicine made him a proposal: Would he defer a prestigious fellowship and spend a year helping to create an organization to bring health care to homeless citizens?

As you’ve probably already guessed, Jim took the job and that year turned into his life’s calling. For nearly 40 years, Dr. O’Connell and his colleagues have treated thousands of homeless patients through the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. In this eye-opening book, we travel with O’Connell as he navigates the city, offering medical care, socks, soup, empathy, humor, and friendship to some of the city’s most endangered citizens. His work emphasizes a style of medicine in which patients come first, stressing continuity of care as well as the importance of listening attentively to and spending time with individuals experiencing homelessness.

I don’t find myself reading a ton of nonfiction these days, but I couldn’t put Rough Sleepers down. It’s such a powerfully emotional and thought-provoking book that sheds light on such a timely subject and is a perfect fit for this year’s summer reading theme: Find Your Voice.

Check out Rough Sleepers or one of the other titles on this year’s book list from the Sioux City Public Library.

Support for Check It Out on Siouxland Public Media comes from Verde Outdoor Media.

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