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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner

I read a blurb about T.J. Mitchell and Dr. Judy Melinek's Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner recently and run to get a download from the library.

Dr. Julie Melinek began her work as a forensic pathologist in the New York City medical examiner's office just two months before the attacks of September 11. She quickly learns how to determine cause of death and label homicides, accidents, and natural deaths. She must come to grips with some horrible ways to die, all the while giving the dead the respect they deserve. September 11 tries her in ways that nothing else could, and she emerges from her training well equipped to take on whatever the future holds.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book on many levels. I think that the work Dr. Melinek does is fascinating, first of all, and I am very appreciative that she took the time to share her experience in narrative form. This book can be very technical at times, and what I appreciated most about this is that if you are interested in the super technical work, you get it here, but if you get lost and have to glaze over it, it doesn't hold the story back. Dr. Melinek tells her story with such ethos and pathos, and she clearly takes what she does seriously. It was really incredible to read her work (Mitchell, her co-author, is her husband) and understand how much respect she has not just for her profession but for people like you and I who will one day end up on her table. I only hope other medical examiners are as caring and honest as she is.

Dr. Melinek's treatment of her work on September 11 is not just commendable and laudable but also honest and heartbreaking. I won't get into detail here because it is her story to tell. It was a kind and straightforward telling of the hardest 8 months of her life, and I am grateful she shared it with her readers. Her efforts to preserve the dignity of her fellow Americans was truly a gift to read. Well worth your time, I would say. So pick it up. 

For purchase below. 

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