Many doctors have been distinguished writers—Anton Chekhov, William Carlos Williams and Abraham Verghese, to name a few. But we haven’t heard enough from nurses, whose world is just as arcane and important. Christie Watson helps close this gap. The Language of Kindness could not be more compelling or more welcome: It’s about how we survive, and about the people who help us do so.
This is not a story of a high-octane career in a pioneering surgical field; it’s not a memoir filled with blockbusting anecdotes. Instead, it is a gently remarkable book about what it means to be a nurse, what it means to care. It struck me again and again how little we hear from nurses, how quiet their voice is, how poorly represented they are on our bookshelves ... It’s a privilege to have Watson as our guide, walking us through the corridors, into the cubicles and the occasional operating theatre ... The book is shot through with love—not just the love she has for her patients, but also for her colleagues and for her former profession. It’s also, by the very nature of the job, filled with a great deal of sadness ... It made me cry. It made me think. It made me laugh. It encouraged me to appreciate this most underappreciated of professions more than ever, and then to text a mate who’s working as a nurse to meet up for a drink.
Her dedication in the book is simply 'For Nurses,' but anyone curious as to how the NHS staggers on would do well to read it. The answer lies in the compassion of people like Watson ... I challenge anyone to get through all 336 pages without shedding a tear for what those who work in 'the most undervalued of all professions' have to witness ... Towards the end of this memoir, Watson admits to feeling 'depressed, burnt-out and tired.' Yet it is nursing that, for a time, saves her.
The author’s passion for and true love of nursing are evident on every page, and this quality makes the book an absorbing read and a testament to the immense responsibility, diligent work, and compassionate spirit of medical caregivers. A beautiful homage to the dignified, unsung heroes of hospital care.
It zigzags through the different wards she works in and the types of nursing she does, touches on nursing theorists, and moves back and forth in time as she passes through different life phases. The result is less conventional memoir than appreciation of a profession ... Her recollections of inhabiting this in-between space are revealing and will be especially resonant for people who work in health care.