Excerpt from Beauty in the Broken Places by Allison Pataki, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Beauty in the Broken Places

A Memoir of Love, Faith, and Resilience

by Allison Pataki

Beauty in the Broken Places by Allison Pataki X
Beauty in the Broken Places by Allison Pataki
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  • First Published:
    May 2018, 272 pages
    May 2019, 272 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster
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Print Excerpt

Chapter 1

"Is there a medical professional aboard the plane?"

I think all young doctors live with a certain amount of trepidation about hearing this question. What a terrible summons to get at 35,000 feet in the air, removed from all medical equipment or access to healthcare facilities or colleagues to consult. The question is equal parts known and unknown: you know why you are being called, and yet you have no idea to what. What if you are a throat specialist being called to deliver a premature baby, or a dermatologist being called to a life-threatening heart attack?

But on June 9, as we prepared for our flight to Seattle, Dave and I were not concerned with anything like that. It was a glorious early-summer day. June really is the best time of year in Chicago. After our long, notoriously difficult winters—the vestiges of which can remain parked like a gloomy, uninvited guest through May—the city and all of its inhabitants come surging back to life.

It was the ideal sort of summer day: clear, sun-drenched, a balmy temperature that lures you outdoors and insists on putting you in a good mood. And Dave and I were certainly both in good moods as we hopped into a taxi and headed to O'Hare Airport.

I checked my phone as the driver weaved through rush-hour traffic. My parents had responded to an email we had sent with our hotel information and flight itinerary. Dave's mom had replied to a text message from Dave that had included a photo of me standing in profile, my baby bump clearly visible against the backdrop of the Chicago River. Dave and I were tracking the size of the baby on a weekly basis on an iPhone app, and Dave had sent out the photo with the message "Five months, the size of a papaya!" His mother texted us back: "Cutest little papaya I have ever seen. Enjoy the trip and the much-needed rest and relaxation. You both deserve it."

Dave smiled and clicked off his phone. We agreed. We were both exhausted and eager for some time together. I had just delivered a big round of edits on my latest novel, and felt as if both my brain and my body had limped over the finish line. Dave, a third-year resident in orthopedic surgery at Rush University, was wrapping up a grueling few months; his most recent rotation was a self-directed research block, and he was working on no fewer than twenty-four different medical papers. The pace he kept at work still struck me, after many years of his medical training, as untenable—he seldom slept more than four hours a night.

As we sat side by side in the cab, relieved to be heading someplace where we could sleep and relax and enjoy the rare opportunity to spend several days in each other's company, I glanced sideways at my husband and thought to myself how lucky I was. It was one of those out-of-body moments when you take a step back and take stock of the present moment, and as I did that, I thought: I am so lucky. I did not say it aloud, but I remember so distinctly that I thought it. I looked at Dave with eleven years of shared history to color my view—a college courtship, a young, largely untested relationship post-graduation in the wilds of New York City. Medical school and marriage and residency, moves around the country and a rescue dog, all parts of the life we had woven together, and now a new baby that would be equal parts Dave and me. I loved Dave as much as I'd first loved him in college, but the love was different now, more textured, you might even say better, made stronger by the fact that it was broken in and tested and bolstered with years of friendship and understanding and so much shared life.

This is not some rosy retrospective—I remember it as clearly as I remember the taxi and the rush-hour traffic and the sunny June day. I remember exactly what I thought as I stared at him in that car ride to the airport. I thought, to be precise: I am so lucky to have Dave.

Excerpted from Beauty in the Broken Places by Allison Pataki. Copyright © 2018 by Allison Pataki. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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