At Least You Have Your Health is realistic and compelling women’s fiction. It’s perfect book club read with many topics to discuss.
At Least You Have Your Health by Madi Sinha
Publication Date : April 5th 2022
Publisher : Berkley Books
Genre : Women’s Fiction
Pages : 384
Tea for the book : Some part makes you angry – Orange Tea
Some part is informative and motivating – Green Tea
Disclosure – Many thanks to the publisher for e-copy via NetGalley.
Behind the wholesome veneer of a wellness clinic lies a dangerous secret in this compelling women’s fiction novel from the author of The White Coat Diaries.
Dr. Maya Rao is a gynecologist trying to balance a busy life. With three young children, a career, and a happy marriage, she should be grateful–on paper, she has it all. But after a disastrous encounter with a patient, Maya is forced to walk away from the city hospital where she’s spent her entire career.
A new opportunity arises when Maya enrolls her daughter at an exclusive private school and crosses paths with Amelia DeGilles. Amelia is the owner and entrepreneur behind Eunoia Women’s Health, a concierge wellness clinic that specializes in house calls for its clientele of wealthy women for whom no vitamin infusion or healing crystal is too expensive. All Eunoia needs is a gynecologist to join its ranks.
Amid visits to her clients’ homes to educate and empower, and occasionally to remove crystals from bodily orifices, Maya comes to idolize the beautiful, successful Amelia. But Amelia’s life isn’t as perfect as it seems, and when Amelia’s teenaged daughter is struck with a mysterious ailment, Maya must race to uncover the reason before it’s too late. In the process, she risks losing what’s most important to her and bringing to light a secret of her own that she’s been desperately trying to keep hidden.
At Least You Have Your Health is realistic and compelling women’s fiction that revolves around mainly Maya and also Amelia, and their different views on women’s healthcare. The story is about Indian immigrants, upbringing, hyperparenting, women in medicine, racism, motherhood, work-life balance, women’s health care and healthcare system, and inclusion and diversity.
Writing is compelling, thoughtful, slightly witty, and steady-paced. The story is written in third person narrative from Maya’s perspective. There is occasional Amelia’s POV that tells about her childhood, life and what made her to start Eunoia, a healthcare company for rich women.
Plot is interesting. It started with introduction of Maya, an Indian-American gynecologist, wife and mother of 3 kids and also is main breadwinner of the house as her husband Dean is still doing his PhD along with how she was brought up that made her who she is and what she thinks about education and upbringing of kids. She is doing a lot and works on a tight schedule with drop of three kids to school then 9-5 job at hospital, and pick up of kids at 5. She cannot afford being late. She is also struggling as non-white woman in medicine that is very much patriarchal. A bad day, one incident and her losing her composure force her to leave her job. By chance, she meets Amelia DeGilles, very rich and honored by all elite moms, at private school’s parents meeting who wanted a gynecologist for her concierge medicine company, Eunoia. Charmed by her look and wealth and despite her husband’s doubts Maya joins Eunoia to keep her family financially floating and they actually sail but at a cost.
It was interesting to read how Maya will do in this new job and how being with Amelia and circle of private school moms will change her, how much the change will affect her family and her ethics, will she let go of ethics and what she believed about women’s healthcare to be part of Eunoia and wealthy people, or will she fight for the right thing.
This is character driven story and there is lot happening and is many layers in story than my simplified summary. Maya and Amelia are interesting characters.
I liked Maya. It was easy to empathize with her and her situation. Her childhood story and story of her mother, what made her mother to be obsessed her kids choose money oriented careers is relatable. It is something as Indian I have seen a lot in parents. Almost every other parents are like Maya’s parents. I could understand her feelings and can imagine how alone she must be feeling with her constant struggle to be included in American community when she was subjected to racial inequality at every step and phase of her life.
What I liked most about her is she is doing a lot, juggling life and work, and it’s amazing she does it all without help. I could get why she wanted the best for her kids and didn’t want them to suffer and experience the way she did. It was sad to see her talk about people being mean because of their color with her daughter, Diya, who looked like her more than her other two kids who looked white like her husband. I can see how she was swept up in the race of being on top of everything and wanting respect and honor people like Amelia had. It was sad to see how being in rich white mothers’ circle was changing her, everything she has got and achieved seems less and less important to her and desire to fit in and be included gets so strong that she couldn’t see right and didn’t want to notice its impact on family. I so wanted to shake her and make her see what she is doing.
There is also layer of one horrible incident that caused her trauma and never delivering babies again. I loved how she realised her mistakes around climax, how whole journey made her see the real problem, what she needed to do to have satisfying and content life keeping her ethics and dream balanced, and also helped her in confronting her trauma and take steps toward healing.
Amelia isn’t exactly bad person but you can see early in story that she is highly misguided and all her beliefs are so wrong. Her concierge medicine idea is good but it’s not for normal people, it’s not helping community. It’s for rich people who can afford it, who wanted everything hush hush. The kind of treatments and therapies she offered are highly dubious. Like Dean I will say it’s scamming.
Amelia also had bad childhood but at some point, I felt she is unreliable. The way she is obsessed over her kids’ health and consulted weird therapists and spiritualists to heal even the smallest thing not right in their kids’ health or behavior, is batshit crazy and she refused to see any logic or science behind something wrong with her kid’s health. I also didn’t like the actual reason she hired Maya. It sure makes her bad person in my eyes. But I’m glad she got her lesson in the end. I was just surprised it took so long to get there.
Dean- Maya’s husband and Esther -Maya’s assistant are the most reasonable and wise characters in the story. I liked Dean for being such a supportive husband. Being white he might not really know what Maya felt, her being non-white and looked down by people and all but he is most empathetic person. He listened to her, cheered her, and supported her in their ten years of marriage. He won my heart when he said to Maya he is not impressed by Amelia and her wealth or respect she has but by Maya who is an amazing gynecologist and mother. Maya found his content nature grating but I loved that trait of him and I’m more like him when it comes to seeing where my money is going and why.
Esther is from Haitian immigrant family. She made the story more lighthearted. She is loyal and lovely person and amazing at her job as assistant. I loved her for being wise and telling the truth to Maya when things start to go out of hand. Her reason for being assistant and why she want to study medicine was great.
Best part is all the layers and themes of inclusion, medicine, classism, racism, and women’s healthcare. I liked how author talked about life of immigrants, their struggle in new country with inclusion and racism, how little people know about women’s anatomy and healthcare and how schools and hospitals still use the outdated system when it comes to education on women’s anatomy and sex. I also liked a little bit of medical info and medical history as well which was informative.
The layer of hyper parenting is most thought provoking. Reading all moms and the way they behaved made me think, what’s wrong with parents these days. There is so much competition between them and they all are literally forcing their dreams and beliefs on their kids. One mom (or was it Amelia?) cared about what classes her kid attended and what language the kid learned at age 4! (And here I’m only worried about my kid’s potty training!) It made me think if it’s really necessary to go to prestigious schools and universities? And what about being happy and content? why it is discarded for high paying career? It’s not just American but everywhere in world parents behave this way. My goodness, the way they feed kids with vitamins and superstitious therapy is shocking. They did what the internet said putting their logic and medical proofs aside. It all made me laugh and shake my head in disbelief.
Climax is great. I enjoyed reading everything that happened from this point. The revelation of what was happening to Amelia’s daughter is surprising. The end is amazing and uplifting. I enjoyed how everything changed Maya and her life.
Why 4 stars-
At some point, I felt the story is stuck with pace and I was tired of Maya not seeing what she is doing and how it is changing her and their way of living.
Overall, At Least You Have Your Health is moving, thought-provoking, compelling and steady paced women’s fiction. It’s perfect book club read with many topics to discuss.
I highly recommend this if you enjoy,
Steady paced story
Women in STEM
theme of inclusion, diversity, racism, classism
layer of hyper parenting, immigrant life, PTSD
topic of women’s healthcare
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