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Publisher's Summary

The New York Times best seller

"Riveting, heartbreaking, sometimes difficult, always inspiring." (The New York Times Book Review)

As seen/heard on Fresh Air, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, NBC Nightly News, MSNBC, Weekend Edition, and more

An emergency room physician explores how a life of service to others taught her how to heal herself.

Michele Harper is a female African-American emergency room physician in a profession that is overwhelmingly male and white. Brought up in Washington, DC, in a complicated family, she went to Harvard, where she met her husband. They stayed together through medical school until two months before she was scheduled to join the staff of a hospital in central Philadelphia, when he told her he couldn't move with her. Her marriage at an end, Harper began her new life in a new city, in a new job, as a newly single woman.

In the ensuing years, as Harper learned to become an effective ER physician, bringing insight and empathy to every patient encounter, she came to understand that each of us is broken - physically, emotionally, psychically. How we recognize those breaks, how we try to mend them, and where we go from there are all crucial parts of the healing process.

The Beauty in Breaking is the poignant true story of Harper's journey toward self-healing. Each of the patients Harper writes about taught her something important about recuperation and recovery. How to let go of fear even when the future is murky: how to tell the truth when it's simpler to overlook it. How to understand that compassion isn't the same as justice. As she shines a light on the systemic disenfranchisement of the patients she treats as they struggle to maintain their health and dignity, Harper comes to understand the importance of allowing ourselves to make peace with the past as we draw support from the present. 

In this hopeful, moving, and beautiful audiobook, she passes along the precious, necessary lessons that she has learned as a daughter, a woman, and a physician.

©2020 Michele Harper (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“In this illuminating memoir, an African American emergency room doctor finds that her patients' stories lead her to make connections between her work and the larger world.” (Shelf Awareness)

What listeners say about The Beauty in Breaking

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Holding up the mirror

Michelle Harper is courageous in her willingness to share her story. Her vulnerability shines through as she takes the reader on a journey. Her insights show how dealing with your own brokenness and others is the only way you can become whole.

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Enlightening, profound, life-changing.

Beautifully narrated and thoughtfully paced. An eye-opening glimpse into thr ER and a firm reminder of the importance of inner-peace. Thank you.

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  • Monica MD
  • 09-07-2020

Fantastic!!

I am a mere 2 chapters in and can’t wait to hear Dr. Harper’s full story unfold. I happened to heard about this book on NPR, a memoir of an ER physician. And a woman, no less! Then to find out she is a black woman—what a rare gem, especially in the field of medicine. As a female Pediatrician, I crave life stories of my colleagues as I know they are likely to be very rich and layered, not just in patient encounters but also in how that person arrived to medicine. I am moved by her story, the suffering she survived, the rawness as she details the darkest chapters of her life. The narration is great. I know this will be a book I send/recommend to my girlfriends & colleagues, especially those in medicine.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Alice
  • 27-08-2020

If I wanted preachy I would have asked my pastor.

I had high hopes for this book. As a medical professional I wanted to hear all about the author's experiences in the ER. What I got was 40% experiences and 60% opinions on race relations, white superiority, and the downgrade of women in the medical field. I understand all of that and I empathize but this is not what I want to listen to when I buy a book. I want a good story.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Marmite
  • 15-08-2020

Not my thing

This book had a peculiar habit of oscillating between fascinating glimpses of ER life and less fascinating long philosophical rants about yoga and wellness and forgiveness which sounded more like some kind of cultish spiritual tract. The narrator sounded arrogant and condescending throughout - it’s possible I may have enjoyed this more if I’d read it. There was a lot of telling, rather than showing. I got the feeling the writer is more suited to essays than long form. I love medical books and am a huge fan of Atul Gawande, but this simply wasn't that well written and really needed a different narrator.

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  • Patricia Callahan
  • 09-08-2020

I was expecting more...

I really want to like this book. I loved the title and description promised something profound and interesting. I tried so hard and I really gave it a shot, listening to the entire book. And I liked Michelle. She is someone I would enjoy meeting and chatting over a cup of coffee. She is articulate and well spoken.

It seems like she was trying to go for the eat pray love scene. This was her own meditation and her own message as of course this is her own story. Unfortunately, there was nothing new or enlightening here. I listened to it from start to finish in a few days, it was an easy listen to me. But there was nothing new here. I was left disappointed.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Elise
  • 25-08-2020

Beautiful!

This is a beautiful book about humanity, love, loss, transformation and grace. It is also about justice, sacrifice and equality. It shows that we still have far to go, but that there is love and hope all around us.
The narration is wonderful. I highly recommend you listen!

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  • MOR Denver
  • 21-11-2020

A Memoir Done at Arm's Length

I so wanted to enjoy this memoir. It came highly recommended by a dear friend and got raves from the NYT book review. Dr. Harper certainly captures numerous engaging stories of patients she has seen over her career as an Emergency Room physician and shares a bit of what happened to her as a child and in her relationships as an adult. Regrettably, I found her writing wooden and had the sense that she was firmly keeping me at arm's length through out the book. Compare this memoir to others that leap from the page and deeply reveal the author's heart, mind and soul, like Hillbilly Elegy and Know My Name. Well, there's just no comparison.

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  • L
  • 13-11-2020

not as good as i'd hoped

purchased this based on other's recommendations and reviews. There are some good parts for sure but overall felt like it would have been better as an article instead of a novel.

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  • April Washington
  • 13-02-2021

Absolutely Amazing

Absolutely Amazing! Could not stop listening to it. Really hope she does another book between the stories and personal life experiences Michele shares. I’m absolutely inspired by Michele Harper.

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  • Gina Santamaria
  • 27-01-2021

Really, Really Enjoyed This Book!

I listened on audible, and the reader really brought the book to life! Not to take anything away from the author. I laughed I cried and I received spiritual food. Very, very inspiring book. I would recommend to any woman who is open to raising her level of thinking.

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  • Jema
  • 26-01-2021

narration is cold and affected

The book is good- congrats to the author. Hate these professional narrators who sound like practiced robots. Books are so much better when the writer or a normal sounding person reads it.

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