cover image All That Moves Us: Life Lessons from a Pediatric Neurosurgeon

All That Moves Us: Life Lessons from a Pediatric Neurosurgeon

Jay Wellons. Random House, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-0-593-24336-7

Wellons, chief of the division of pediatric neurosurgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, shares in his powerful and intimate debut his stories of “remarkable children and our journeys together.” There’s Alyssa, a bullied teen who attempted suicide with her sheriff father’s service revolver and whose mother learned of the incident because she worked at the 911 dispatch center. Permanently blinded by the gunshot, Alyssa and her parents insisted that Wellons tell her story, “so that people might understand that social bullying is real.” Leonard, meanwhile, an eight-year-old who lost muscle function after a space heater explosion, asked Wellons pre-op for “the whole miracle” despite the surgery’s risks: the procedure was a success. In another tense episode, Wellons operated on a baby born three months early. His patients are the centerpieces of each chapter, and together these accounts make for an awe-inspiring look at their resilience rather than of his obvious surgical skills; indeed, a friend had warned him that “neurosurgeons are... egotistical,” but in these pages Wellons steers well clear of that. His writing is top-tier and consistently breathtaking: “For the child, it was simply a chance to heal and live; theirs is the most innocent view. I hurt; now I hurt no longer.” Medical memoirs don’t come much better than this. (June)