Review: Sonia Henry – Going Under

Going Under
Sonia Henry

Kitty has survived medical school and is looking forward to being a junior doctor learning the ways of surgery. But instead of a supportive learning environment, she finds herself bullied by her superiors and fantasizing about a life outside the medical profession. Kitty will survive the year – but will she survive with her personality intact?

From the first chapter this novel grabbed me and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Kitty was a playful protagonist who allowed me to feel empathy, pity and horror all at once. I knew that surely she would be ok, but I felt like I was fighting it out in the trenches with her. I felt like I was the one being bullied, and the one being in a hospital.

I’m not sure this is really a sexy novel. Yes, there are some fantasies that Kitty plays out in her head, but at the same time most of the novel is about her work life and her life with her friends. The Australian culture is to lean towards a good beer or several glasses of wine as a way to cope with life and Kitty and her friends certainty lean into that. Having read novels about lawyers behaving badly as regarding drug use, I can’t say I was surprised by it in this novel either. Doctors are humans too!

It’s horrifying to think of all those doctors out there being bullied and feeling so uncertain of themselves that they commit or attempt suicide. I teach medical students, and pre-medical students, and I know how stressed they are just at the university stage. Being in charge of someone’s life is a huge responsibility, and I don’t think that there is enough support. I feel worried about the students that have become my friends.

I am hoping from more from this author ASAP. I’d prefer if they weren’t another Kitty story, but I’ll take what I can get. I haven’t enjoyed a medical novel so much since Cherry Ames (my mom collects nursing fiction novels). If you’d like to read more by this author, she also penned an anonymous post about the truths of this novel. Fiction, or Non-Fiction? 4 stars from me.

Allen & Unwin | 3rd September 2019 | AU$29.99 | paperback

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