Medical School Memoir Review: "In Stitches"

A few weeks back, after sharing this post, I received an advanced copy of "In Stitches," the journey to and through medical school written by Anthony Youn, M.D.  Getting this book was highly exciting for me - opening the package, seeing the book labeled Advance Uncorrected Proof....Anxious as I was to read "In Stitches," life got the best of me and I'm just now getting to sharing my thoughts.   

Mild Disclaimer:
There may be a slight bias for me towards "In Stitches," as it is mostly set in my home state, and part of it takes place in a town where our nearest Meijer grocery store was when I was growing up (what, you didn't grow up having to drive 40 minutes to your nearest supermarket?  You city folk!).  Reading the familiar road names and restaurants helped me to relate, not just to the book itself, but to Tony as well.

Onto the book!  The first quarter of "In Stitches" takes you through the pre-med years of adolescence, high school and college.  Warning: it's highly awkward.  I actually found myself visibly cringing at points.  While this portion of the book didn't resonate with me as much as the other three-quarters (mainly because I think I've tried to block out most of my awkward years), I believe it was definitely necessary to understand Tony's background: the life at home with a father who demanded the absolute best, his Korean heritage which set him as the minority in a predominately Caucasian town, and his life-changing (and ultimately career-driving) corrective jaw surgery.  

I thoroughly enjoyed the medical school portion of "In Stitches."  While I only know firsthand what the first year is like, it is my opinion that Tony does a great job explaining the entire process of each year and phase of medical school.  As the wife of an almost-second-year medical student (yikes, when did that happen??), I feel that I have gained greater insight into what to expect as we journey through our adventure in the medical field.  While I know that each step will not be the same, it has given me such a better idea of what to expect (though reading about the first third-year rotation mildly terrified me!).

Seeing the story unfold of how Tony was first introduced to plastic surgery through his own experience on the table, to his first taste of it in rotations, to realizing that it was his passion was inspirational.  It made me so excited to soon see my Hubby going through the same steps of experience, enjoyment and decision making. 

It must be noted that Tony is very candid with his personal and professional experiences.  Sprinkled throughout the book is some vulgarity with regards to swearing, relationships and partying.  While for some medical students this is the norm, I would like to state that it isn't true for all med students.  There are a fair share of the Hubby's classmates who are, ahem, living large, but there are an equal number with high and sound morals.  While the vulgarities weren't overly offensive (and remembering that this is a memoir), my personal taste would have appreciated a bit more tactfulness in those regards.  As my normal books of choice don't contain much vulgarity, I found it to be slightly distracting, but not nearly enough to dissuade me from continuing. 

Ultimately, "In Stitches" is an engaging story which gives a phenomenal view into the daily life of medical students.  So many people are completely unaware of the constant sacrifice and commitment demanded of med students, and I believe that this book offers a glimpse into what so many people never see.  I feel that "In Stitches" would be a beneficial read for medical students (and their spouses!) - to understand what to expect - and for any person who has curiosity about the journey to a career in medicine to understand the realities.  Tony's journey - his struggles, his triumphs, his persistence, his enthusiasm, his humor, his realism - was all at once informative, entertaining and inspiring.   I laughed, I cried, I cringed: I recommend.

You can find more about Dr. Youn and "In Stitches" at either of his websites: In Stitches Book or Celeb Cosmetic Surgery

Have you read "In Stitches" yet, or do you plan to?  What are some of your other favorite medical memoirs that I should add to my reading list?

And yes, I know, I know!  I left you hanging with my "big news" teaser.  But I have to wait until we have a sunny day to tell you.  Which I know, sounds really strange...but it's true!  You'll understand once you know.  I think tomorrow is supposed to be nice, so hopefully I can tell you sometime this weekend ;)


  1. Thanks for your review, I just reserved it at our library.

    We just finished MS1 TODAY. I remember finding your blog just as school was starting... remember writing about the first few days/weeks? This year really did go by fast...thought it didn't seem like it during those long lonely nights!

  2. What an amazing review! I completely agree with the whole vulgarity issue. I visibly cringed too!! Have you ever read "House of God"? I started to, and couldn't finish because it is very vulgar. Maybe Dr. Youn was taking a cue from that very influential book? Who knows. Regardless, this is the era of Jersey Shore so I'm sure his book will be well-received. :P

  3. which parts did you find vulgar? i was thinking of buying it, but im not so sure now...

  4. Vulgarity with regards to being (his wording) "horny" his high school/college years. As mentioned, it did not entirely detract from the book or story, but was a little excessive for my personal taste.


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