This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay Book Review

Saturday, 18 April 2020


Title: This is Going to Hurt
Author: Adam Kay
Pages: 277
Publication date: 7th September 2017
Publisher: Picador

About the book
Welcome to the life of a junior doctor: 97-hour weeks, life and death decisions, a constant tsunami of bodily fluids, and the hospital parking meter earns more than you.

Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, Adam Kay's This is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking, this diary is everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn't – about life on and off the hospital ward.

Review
I have had this book sitting on my shelf for a while now and I knew it was loved by many, so after reading (and loving) The Five by Hallie Rubenhold, I told myself I was going to make more of an effort to read more non-fiction books, and with the current crisis that is at the forefront of everyone's lives right now, I figured why not read something by someone who has worked for the frontline NHS?

This is one of those books that had me hooked from only a few pages in. It's incredibly funny from the get-go and Kay's personality really shines through from the very beginning. It's rare that I'm gripped this early on from a book but this is one that I found I just couldn't put down and I devoured it in just a few sittings (which is very rare for me!)

I think it's incredibly unusual to find a book that can make you laugh out loud (quite literally) and break your heart in equal measure and all at the same time - especially from a non-fiction book - but Kay shares his experiences of training as an obstetrician-gynecologist and the highs and lows that come with it; from the cringe-worthy-try-not-to-laugh stories, to recounting the devastating loss of patients, to the break down of his personal relationships due to the long, demanding hours, right through to the stories that are just so unbelievably funny you wonder how human beings cope as a race.

Something I hadn't realised before reading this book, was just how exhausting the process of becoming a doctor really is & how the NHS is (unintentionally) setup to grind the doctors down to the point of exhaustion but how much a simple thank you from a patient means. Kay has found a very effective way to show us some shocking truths while making us laugh so hard we have to hold back tears. It really does mix honesty with comedy and honestly, it's the best kind of learning.

The format of the book is written in short dairy entries and I've never read a book like this before, but actually, it worked very, very well and because the paragraphs are so short, it's a book that you can easily pick up when you have a spare 10 minutes without worrying about needing to finish a whole chapter. I also found the footnotes explaining medical procedures and medical terminology very interesting and not as intrusive as footnotes normally tend to be.

Kay keeps good humour throughout the book; he exposes a lot that is wrong with the NHS that us Brits kinda could have guessed at already, but never loses sight of how truly important it is. He finishes his hilarious and touching tales with a direct plea to the government and to us all to take the NHS and its doctors seriously; to respect it and them and to not take the work that they do for granted. It's such a powerful and important read wrapped up in a highly-entertaining package.

Verdict: ★★★★★ 

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