• The Fiction Fox

Review: The House of God - Samuel Shem


Genre: Fiction Published: Berkely Books 2010, originally published 1978

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

“The patient is the one with the disease”


Let me try to review this book in one sentence:


This book tells the truth, nothing but the truth, but NOT the full truth...


Sounds cryptic but if it is the best I can do. The House of God adresses grim and dark topics that are usually not spoken about in literature. It does not shy away from showing the “dark side” of medicine and truly, as both a patient aswell as a doctor to be, that is the type of book that will get my 5 star rating.


What it does, it does really well. At times it feels like satire, but honestly, so does the reality in hospitals sometimes. On top of that o found it very funny and it actually had me laughing out loud ik public at times (which rarely happens with a book). If that makes me a horrible person with a demented sense of humor: so be it. I rest in my fate.


However; I take half a star off for the missed opportunities this book had. If the author had described the actual emotional impact that the events must have had on the characters, it could have added such a layer of depht. Emotions like guilt, shame, feeling of wanting to prove your worth but failing at times are hinted at, but not explored. I get maybe this was not the story the author was going for: but I feel it could have really added a lot.

All that being said: it's hard to argue that The House of God became a classic over the years, and is a must-read for every doctor (in training), even if it's only to remind you of the things we should never strive to become...


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