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Publisher's Summary

Elizabeth Ford went through medical school unsure of where she belonged. It wasn't until she did her psychiatry rotation that she found her calling - to care for one of the most vulnerable populations of mentally ill people, the inmates of New York City's jails, including Rikers Island, who are so sick that they are sent to the Bellevue Hospital Prison Ward for care.

These men were broken, without resources or support, and very ill. They could be violent, unpredictable, but they could also be funny and tender and needy. Mostly, they were human and they awakened in Ford a boundless empathy. Her patients made her a great doctor and a better person. While Ford was a psychiatrist at Bellevue she became a wife and a mother. In her book she shares her struggles to balance her personal and professional lives, to care for her children and her patients, and to maintain the empathy that is essential to her practice - all in the face of a complex institution, an exhausting workload, and the deeply emotionally taxing nature of her work. Ford brings humor, grace, and humanity to the lives of the patients in her care and in beautifully rendered prose illuminates the inner workings (and failings) of our mental health and criminal justice systems.

©2017 Elizabeth Ford (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Sometimes Amazing Things Happen

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-08-2017

It's Way Better Than Its Title (I Promise)

What did you love best about Sometimes Amazing Things Happen?

It's a beautifully honest story about her work, with far more empathy than you usually find in such narratives. "Jailhouse Doc" but for psych, and with a physician you know actually cares enormously about her patients.

What did you like best about this story?

The story is crafted in an unusual fashion, but I like it - unlike other doctor-memoirs, Dr. Ford doesn't alternate between her personal life and medicine, but intertwines them in a way that pushes the story forward.

What does Bernadette Dunne bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She does a nice job of vocalizing "characters" (real people, or at least composites per the author) with psychosis, which is not an easy task. It's a tough tone and pace to master, and she does a really nice job.

Any additional comments?

I'm not sure who let this title fly, but Dr. Ford is an enormously talented writer. If you're interested in criminal justice, medicine, or psychiatry, read this book.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Gary & Jay
  • 07-11-2018

Vanity

I'll admit that Elizabeth Ford chose a tough career path as a psychiatrist. That being said, I found this memoir somewhat lacking, unless we're supposed to be looking for ways to be impressed by her, both in the long term and the day -to -day.

She began her internship by defying the chief on her first rotation, standing up for a patient. That was fine, but instead of paying the usual price of a subordinate, Dr. Ford is singled out for praise. She goes on to rescue her ward from Hurircane Sandy, and on several occasions plays the part of the deity who alone can reach and maneuver an individual in crisis.

From the title and the way the book was described. I thought I would be reading about remarkable incidents of closeness, humor and insight one sometimes sees when a group involved in close therapeutic contact works well. The narrative is much too shallow for any such thing to take place. The patients are defined by their limitations and manifestations of illness and aggression, and we never truly know any one of them as a person, with a history. They are simply foils for Dr. Ford to showcase her talents and sympathies. The one patient who gets a bit unruly and strikes her in a halfhearted way ends up being shipped back to prison without a second thought, apologetic, but unforgiven.

Amazing things? Dr. Ford would like us to think so. Hope? I think it may have risen and sunk in a few choruses of a singalong at a hospital talent show.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Jess
  • 30-01-2021

Reads like a calendar

I'm sure the author's experiences were very interesting but I don't think the book is very interesting. I couldn't finish it. She doesn't give us any details of her personal life at all, just "I got married, I had a child," etc., very short snippets of her home life. I really wanted to know more about her and how she felt. Basically, the book was just a litany of events. I wanted to like this book but I didn't and I didn't finish it.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jean
  • 27-09-2017

Thought-Provoking

This book covers Dr. Ford’s psychiatry rotation in medical school. She says she discovered her calling on that rotation. She went on to become Chief of Psychiatry for Correctional Health Services in New York City. She worked at Bellevue Hospital and Riker’s Island. Ford discusses the mentally ill in the jail system. She also includes personal information about the problems of balancing her professional and personal life.

The book is well written and provides the reader with a good overview of the problems of the mentally ill in the correctional system. I came away with reinforcement of my opinion about the need to reform the mental health system both in the need to remove the mentally ill out of the prison population and get the mentally ill homeless off the streets. The book is a worthwhile read.

The book is almost eight and a half hours long. Bernadette Dunne does an excellent job narrating the book. Dunne is an actress and well-known audiobook narrator. Dunne has earned the Audie Award and over six Golden Earphone Awards.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Kristi
  • 06-01-2021

Good listen for mental health professionals

This book is just awesome. 10/10. Good story for those in the field and have a passion for working with SMI.

1 person found this helpful

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  • S. Hewitt
  • 29-11-2020

Brilliant Book

Really amazing stories of psychiatrist and patients inside of Bellevue and the Prison Units. I loved listening to this all the way through.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Fact addict
  • 30-08-2020

Quite revealing...

I enjoyed this realistic story about the famous Bellevue psychiatric area. Having a medical background, but not much psych experience, I found it revealing about some of the truly psychiatric ill people who are her patients in these stories. Many are quite damaged from childhood, and it tugged at my heart to hear their stories, and accounts of having to leave reality to cope with their lives.
Dr Ford becomes truly immersed in her patients’ treatments, and she represents the best of what modern healthcare can deliver.
The ending is bittersweet- it would be a spoiler to reveal it...... but listen to this- you will not be disappointed.
The narrator was excellent: I did not realize until almost the end of the book that Dr Ford was not the narrator; Ms Dunne puts that much emotion into her reading.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Debra S. Long
  • 28-02-2019

Extraordinary

This is exceptional reading...true to life, and stimulates discussion of psychiatric illness, treatment, and the people who choose to labor in the field. Excellent.

1 person found this helpful

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  • all our stories
  • 12-11-2021

An eye opening book written by an amazing doctor.


This book left me hopeful and wondering what a difference it would make if people who struggled with mental illness weren’t treated like criminals?

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  • tallsharon
  • 10-10-2021

An interesting insight into the world of a psychiatrist working with inmates with mental illness

Interesting, realistic view / perspective of the work of mental health professionals within the criminal justice system.

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  • Draco
  • 06-09-2021

Really enjoyable, albeit heartbreaking book

I went into this audiobook not knowing what to expect, but wasn’t disappointed. The author,whilst preserving the anonymity of her patients, was very thorough in explaining how each individual presented his condition. In addition, I have been disappointed in the past with female readers, but this was expertly (in my opinion)read,at a good pace. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 26-08-2021

An interesting listen

This is absolutely not the book I thought it was… a second read of the title proves why
Nevertheless I gave the audio a spin and I was pleased I did

I can’t help but think of the Jody Foster character in Hotel Artemis (despite the author describing herself very differently) I guess this was the closest reference point I had

A lot of credit to the narrator who trades the work as if it were her own - a usually cringeworthy attempt to alter her voice when changing character after the initial giggle actually works

The story itself is just a collection of incidences and her reactions and feelings about them

Despite all the craziness in the new right now this books goes a long way to remind us that there are loving and compassionate people in the world… they just don’t seem to have the mainstream positions of power that they should

Well worth a listen, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows… in fact quite the opposite but for me the combination of the writer and narrator just works

1 person found this helpful

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  • C Victor-Smith
  • 17-11-2021

very interesting and enjoyable

Opens your eyes to other lives less fortunate than one's own. Very well read and interesting to listen to.

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  • Richard
  • 01-11-2021

A window into another world

Thought-provoking, mind-expanding. Narrated excellently, written humbly and packed full of genuinely engaging personal stories that keep you on the edge of your metaphorical seat. I was nervous that the subject matter would be distressing (which it is) but the author brings you along sensitively from the start, inviting you into her perspective as a psychiatrist treating the prisoners.

In a world that dehumanises and dismisses, that seeks to simplify into “good” and “evil”, this book reacquaints us with the humanity and complexity of reality. It also shows the counter-productive results of the populist “revenge” driven policies behind our criminal justice system, but it never comments.

Part of the what makes the book so engaging is it brings no opinions, doesn’t have an agenda. It is just a window into a world most of us will never see, and it expands the reader’s mind in the process.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 16-10-2021

An unexpected gem

I absolutely loved this book! What a truly incredible, kind, caring and compassionate woman Dr Ford is!!

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  • dizzy bee
  • 10-10-2021

Ok but I’ve read better

The robotic narrator was the worst part and almost made me turn it off. I had to be in the right mood to listen to her monotoned speech. Story was pretty interesting although I’ve read better and more gripping tales about prisons and psych patients.

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  • Happy Annie
  • 22-09-2021

Brilliant!

I loved this book, every word of it. a passionate tale. brilliantly read and written.

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  • Moonchild
  • 31-08-2021

Please be aware

This book contains 2 uses of the “N” Word by a white author, which was wholly inappropriate and added nothing to the story.

Otherwise a very interesting book.

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  • S. R. Melly
  • 27-08-2021

Thoughtful and tactful insight

Dr Ford clearly really cares about her patients and genuinely trying to Improve their quality of life. An insight into systems most of us will never experience, but that manages to bring humanity to the hulking judicial system

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