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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Didn't Get Frazzled is a humorous novel about the American medical school experience written by David Z. Hirsch. Studying and acing exams were things any medical student could take in their stride, but the real challenges facing the first year medical students in Seth's class had everything to do with their gross anatomy class. Teams of desperate students cut, sawed, and used memorization tricks to remember the parts of the human body that were - absurdly enough - laid out before them on their examination tables. Their subjects' bodies reeked of formaldehyde and, by extension, they stunk of the preservative as well. One could always tell when a first-year was approaching by that smell. Once, when he came home in a total state of exhaustion, Seth neglected to shower off the stink before he went to bed, and his bed reeked for months afterwards. It was all a matter of perspective, such as looking at a barrel filled with amputated limbs and not getting spooked. At least, Seth had a semblance of normalcy to come home to in the shape of his live-in girlfriend, April. However, as Seth and his classmates got more and more involved in the shared challenges of their schooling, April became more involved with her own co-workers, and their worlds gradually grew further and further apart.
David Z. Hirsch's humorous medical school novel, Didn't Get Frazzled, left me feeling profoundly respectful of those students who survive their academic and internship experiences while retaining their humanity and compassion at the same time. This beautifully written and very funny story also reveals the harsh truths medical students have to face and learn to live with. As I write this, I'm thinking quite vividly of the papoose board and the heart-breaking work faced by pediatricians. Hirsch's character, Seth, shares his personal and professional life with the reader, and it's a fascinating account. Some of the patients Seth deals with are unforgettable, and, likewise, there are doctors described who gave me chills and those who still maintained a connection with their patients. While some aspiring doctors may find this an inspirational read, I found myself glad that while I had seriously entertained veterinary medicine, I had never considered medical school. That said, Didn't Get Frazzled is a marvelous read, funny at times, even uproariously so, and poignant at others. As I finished this book, I thought how lucky Seth's patients were to have him as a doctor. And that's what it's all about in the end. Didn't Get Frazzled lets you live the medical school experience from a safe and sane distance. It's most highly recommended.