Starred Review. In her amazing memoir, Magliato belies the myth of surgeons as distant, cocky, robotic—and male. Yet she also bluntly explains why, as one of the world’s very few female heart surgeons, she once relied on the psychological “full metal jacket.” “Sometimes, it was the only thing holding me together,” she says of the distance she needed during an insanely grueling training in cardiac surgery. Magliato describes the bloody trenches of the operating theater; the vulnerable patients who are saved or who die; and the juggling of a demanding career with her role as wife and mother. However, it’s the doctor’s tender heart that makes her far more than a “healing robot.” Recounting one patient’s dying moments, Magliato acknowledges that she was unable to help the woman live but is proud that, at the least, “I gave her… a beautiful exit from this world. When it’s my time to go, that’s how I want to die. In the arms of my son.” Look for sobering statistics on women and heart disease, and an inspiring example of living and loving life to the fullest. (Jan.)
When a female resident seeks entry into that rarefied boys’ club of heart surgeons, fasten your seat belt for a bumpy ride. Only her custom self-constructed “full-metal jacket” (“No one could get close to me. . . . I had a force field around me and I liked it that way”) worn as the first woman accepted into surgical training at Akron’s General Medical Center, held Magliato together. Her impoverished early childhood of working long hours affected her profoundly as she became an undaunted physician “utterly focused as a lead surgeon of a seventeen-hour artificial heart implant case.” Impassioned about the heart, she completed her cardiothoracic training in 1998; then followed a year in heart transplantation, finally achieving a “real job” with a paycheck at 36. But for her it’s not about money but “the thrill of touching the human heart” while balancing her professional life sans “jacket” and her personal roles as wife and mother, never easily but with hectic good humor, authentic caring, and in this book, fast-paced, smooth writing that never bores.
— Whitney Scott, Booklist