Sunday, May 29, 2011

This Won't Hurt a Bit (And Other White Lies), A Review and a Giveaway!

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview Michelle Au, MD and author of This Won't Hurt a Bit (And Other White Lies). The book is a candid memoir of Au's medical training and entrance into motherhood. She recounts her trials and tribulations as a medical student, a pediatrics resident, an anesthesiology resident and a new mother. The book has an injured monkey on the cover.

In addition to being a doctor, Michelle is also a mother of two boys, Cal, 5 (almost 6) and Mack, 2. In fact, she gave birth to Cal while she was an anesthesiology resident!

This Won't Hurt a Bit (And Other White Lies) is hilarious and profound all at once. One of the things I liked best about the book is Michelle's honest inner-monologue. There are priceless humorous touches like this one:

"I suddenly remember an embarrassing mark on the back of my white coat--earlier, I accidentally sat in a puddle of spilled coffee that has since dried into an unsightly yellow-ish stain, making it look like I peed on myself--and angle myself slightly away from the family before anyone can see that." This Won't Hurt a Bit (And Other White Lies) Au, P. 224

She touches on the struggle of balancing a rigorous full-time career, in medicine, and being a mother. One of her attending physicians suggests that she find a "mommy job" when she's done with residency, meaning a job where she will be able to spend more time with her family. Au does not hesitate to shoot back at him:

"Well, why is that a mommy job?" I respond snappishly, my feminist guard dog springing reflexively into action. "Don't fathers want to spend time with their kids too? Don't fathers in medicine ever consider taking part-time or no-call jobs in order to smooth out issues with childcare or family life?" This Won't Hurt a Bit (And Other White Lies) Au, P. 293

The book brings the reader into the raw, sometimes laughable (in a black humor sort of way) world of the hospital system. The reader sees the world through the eyes of an impressionable, anxious, but charming, medical student (that would be Michelle Au) who is just getting her bearings.

Au has a dramatic streak in her as well. There are short plays interspersed in the book that are downright hilarious. This is my personal favorite:

How to Find a Job in Anesthesia, Theater of The Mind Edition

MICHELLE: I am graduating from Anesthesia residency, and I need a job.
HOSPITAL ADMINISTRATOR: And why should we give you a job?
MICHELLE: Because I need one. And also, I'm awesome.
HOSPITAL ADMINISTRATOR: Excellent, Doctor. You can start in July, with full benefits and a parking space in the physicians' lot. Would this giant wad of cash be sufficient to seal the deal?
MICHELLE: Yes, please.
This Won't Hurt a Bit (And Other White Lies) Au, P. 294

This play is followed by the reality-based edition, but you'll have to read the book to find out how that ends!

Now remember, folks, I have two kids, so it is always a challenge for me to read, let alone finish a book; however, I found Au's book to be a quick read, and I was able to read it when the kids agreed to sleep.

Now for the fun part! Want to win this book? Dude, I'm giving away two of them! Each of the following counts as one entry:

1. Post a comment about why you want to read This Won't Hurt a Bit (And Other White Lies)
Please include your email address in the comment!
2. Like This Won't Hurt a Bit (And Other White Lies) on Facebook
3. Follow Michelle Au on Twitter
4. Follow Old School/New School Mom on Google Friend Connect
5. Follow Old School/New School Mom on Facebook
6. Follow Old School/New School Mom on Twitter

The winners will be announced on Tuesday June 7, 2011 on my blog. YAY!


  1. If I don't win it, I'll have to steal (or borrow...) yours!!!

  2. I want to read this because the English teacher in me KNOWS that there is a beautiful double meaning to the title and as a working mom who feels guilty 97% of the time I'm really interested in reading about another intelligent woman discuss how it DOES hurt...a lot...more than you would expect...but its worth doing anyway.

    ...and I'm kind of a sucker for well-written medical narratives and it sounds like this is one of those.

  3. I want to read this book, honestly, because I want to hear a docs perspective on this stuff...I only ever "know" docs on a patient-doctor relationship level, and they always seem so private, so I'd like a peek inside their life, especially that of a mother.

  4. as a future doctor (i'm applying to medical school) and a future mother (some day, hopefully!) I am interested to hear Dr. Au's perspectives on balancing a career and family...and it sounds like she has a ton of great stories (and a few good laughs) to share!

  5. Mariana & Audra - Can you ladies post another comment with your email address. I need a way to contact you in case you win! Thanks so much!

  6. This is a great book, i highly recommend!

  7. I want to read TWHAB because I have been reading Michelle's blog and comics since I was at Wellesley, shortly after she graduated (and her comics for the campus paper were still regarded as Actually Funny, unlike everything else with a humorous intent published in it). Got my extra entries through follows @mitoticspindle

    Hope I wiiiiinnnnn!


What do you think? Feel free to agree or disagree, but hateful comments will be deleted.