Readers' Favorite

June 16, 2024

A poignant and inspiring memoir that will resonate with women today

by Donna Huber

Stress Test
joins a growing body of work by women physicians. This memoir takes place at a time when women were still years away from comprising half—or more—of medical school students, and when the second wave of feminism was surging; but many of the fears, griefs, and struggles that women in medicine face today are the same ones the author grappled with decades earlier.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of memoir Stress Test by Kay White Drew
June 2024; Apprentice House; 978-1627205221
ebook, print (348 pages); memoir

It's been a while since I read a memoir and I'm so glad I picked up Stress Test by Kay White Drew. As I've mentioned before, I prefer reading memoirs from ordinary people (as opposed to famous celebrities), but I particularly enjoyed this one because of the historical period it covers. I've been attempting to learn more about the 1960s and 1970s.

Drew was a medical student during the 1970s when women were still a bit of an anomaly in the field. Having read about women in the sciences during the same period, I was familiar with the sexism that was rampant a decade or so before. By the 1970s, sexual harassment wasn't quite as overt as it had been in the 1950s (if you've read Lessons in Chemistry you know what I'm talking about). Actually, I thought Drew was in a much more supportive environment than I was expecting. Perhaps because she was with a bunch of people whose career choice requires a degree of compassion.

I identified with a lot of the feelings and emotions Drew was experiencing during this highly competitive, highly stressful period of medical training. While her sexual habits and drug use (smoking pot) were not something I've dealt with it wouldn't be the 1970s without sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll (there are a few musical references including the death of Elvis Presley). But the sense of failure and inadequacy along with needing to be more assertive and wondering if she would ever find "Mr. Right" - I think many women struggle with these things in their 20s and early 30s. 

Perhaps you or someone you know is heading off to medical school in the fall - this would be an excellent book for them. But I think it would be great for any woman in their 20s and 30s as much of what Drew dealt with is universal to young women. I'm older than that and I still found it inspiring. It had me reflecting on times in my own life and how I navigated those ups and downs. 

I've never been to medical school or faced life and death decisions, and I'm a couple of decades younger (she was finishing up medical school the year I was born - I smiled to myself when she mentioned a date that was 4 days before my birth), so I was surprised how similar our journeys of self-discovering were (in spirit at least).

The memoir is well-written and engaging. Drew shares poignant and intimate moments of her life that draw the reader into the story. 

Buy Stress Test at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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