Book Review :: What Cannot Be Undone by Walter M. Robinson

What Cannot Be Undone by Walter  M Robinson

Guest Post by Kevin Brown

In his collection of essays, What Cannot Be Undone: True Stories of a Life in Medicine, Walter M. Robinson warns readers in his introduction that this book is not full of success stories or happy endings. His book is not for those who want to see people perform miraculous (or even ordinary) recoveries. Instead, he writes honestly about those patients who suffer and, quite often, die. Robinson is a pediatrician who specializes in lung transplants (many related to cystic fibrosis), so a number of the patients he writes about are children or young adults, making the book an especially challenging read for some. However, the book explores important ideas about healthcare, ethics, life, and death, no matter how harrowing the stories he relates. He also includes moments of grace and humor, as those continue to occur even in the midst of death and everything that leads to it. Robinson is willing to share his doubts and fears openly and honestly, which makes him not only a narrator readers can trust, but a doctor one would wish to have by their bedside during those times of loss. He is a doctor who gives the bad news straight, which should only serve as a reminder to celebrate the better moments while they last.


What Cannot Be Undone: True Stories of a Life in Medicine by Walter M. Robinson. University of New Mexico Press, February 2022.

Reviewer bio: Kevin Brown has published three books of poetry: Liturgical Calendar: Poems (Wipf and Stock); A Lexicon of Lost Words (winner of the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, Snake Nation Press); and Exit Lines (Plain View Press). He also has a memoir, Another Way: Finding Faith, Then Finding It Again, and a book of scholarship, They Love to Tell the Stories: Five Contemporary Novelists Take on the Gospels. Twitter @kevinbrownwrite or kevinbrownwrites.weebly.com/.

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