The Bookworm Sez: Book Shows Frontline Workers POV | News

Just a little pinch.

That’s what they tell you when you get a shot in the arm. Just a “hug”, half a second of pain and you can handle that, right? Still, no one likes to have a chance. No one enjoys the sore arm or anything after that. Those things aren’t fun, but neither, as in Kathy Gilsinan’s new book “The Helpers,” is a pandemic.

Some people saw it coming: For example, The Patient’s sister was a doctor herself and she knew it. The vaccine developer, who spent most of her time studying a disease that made headlines from years ago, was also alarmed. They acknowledged that the virus that was rampant in China was a problem in the making.

The CEO also knew: His company’s headquarters, “one of the few in the world” to make ventilators, was near the site of the first American death from the virus. If they could get the parts, his factories could make more machines, but not the “tens of thousands” of fans the country needed. This dilemma brought him to a car company.

Having dealt with emergencies for most of his working life, The Paramedic recognized the urgency of it all, and he took a team from Colorado to New York to help. He still had 9/11 on his mind and regretted not reaching out then.

When the patient load went “from two to nearly 700 in two weeks in the middle of March” that year, the nurse looked at it and she was exhausted. She lived in an apartment in Bronx with her parents and grandmother, and she didn’t have to bring the virus home with her.

While The Chef was trying to figure out how to feed her poor community in the shadow of Breonna Taylor’s murder, the CEO pulled his former VP of production out of retirement, and The Vaccine Developer fell asleep on a preventative. Meanwhile, the paramedic was not feeling well, the nurse tested positive and the patient’s mother was in a coma…

Now going on for three years, COVID-19 has saturated our lives and killed more than a million American parents, children and grandparents.

Now is the time to read ‘The Helpers’.

Here, author Kathy Gilsinan specifically mentions her subjects – depicted are real people and real lives, and almost all of them are ordinary people plunging into the problems inherent in a pandemic. The few who weren’t “helpers” nonetheless help by showing the inner workings of caregiving in chaos, and it all reads like a thriller, with heartbreaking moments of terror mixed with a backstory, heroes rushing to save lives, a surprising bit of adventure, and a bit of light towards the end of the book. Yes, here’s the death and frustration, and Gilsinan doesn’t skip the naysayers in an account that’s familiar but fresh.

Over a million Americans. Are you keeping a close eye on this fall? Then this is a book you want to read. For you, “The Helpers” is worth squeezing in.

“The Helpers: Profiles of the Frontlines of the Pandemic” by Kathy Gilsinan. c.2022, WW Norton $24.95 288 pages

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