Rough Sleepers: Dr. Jim O'Connell's urgent mission to bring healing to homeless people (Unabridged)
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The powerful story of an inspiring doctor who made a difference, by helping to create a program to care for Boston’s homeless community—by the Pulitzer Prize–winning, New York Times bestselling author of Mountains Beyond Mountains
“I couldn’t put Rough Sleepers down. I am left in awe of the human spirit and inspired to do better.”—Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone
Tracy Kidder has been described by The Baltimore Sun as a “master of the nonfiction narrative.” In Rough Sleepers, Kidder shows how one person can make a difference, as he tells the story of Dr. Jim O’Connell, a gifted man who invented ways to create a community of care for a city’s unhoused population, including those who sleep on the streets—the “rough sleepers.”
When Jim O’Connell graduated from Harvard Medical School and was nearing the end of his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, the chief of medicine made a proposal: Would he defer a prestigious fellowship and spend a year helping to create an organization to bring health care to homeless citizens? Jim took the job because he felt he couldn’t refuse. But that year turned into his life’s calling. Tracy Kidder spent five years following Dr. O’Connell and his colleagues as they served their thousands of homeless patients. In this illuminating book we travel with O’Connell as he navigates the city, offering medical care, socks, soup, empathy, humor, and friendship to some of the city’s most endangered citizens. He emphasizes a style of medicine in which patients come first, joined with their providers in what he calls “a system of friends.”
Much as he did with Paul Farmer in Mountains Beyond Mountains, Kidder explores how a small but dedicated group of people have changed countless lives by facing one of American society’s difficult problems instead of looking away.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
In this moving chronicle, Tracy Kidder takes us into the hard lives of Boston’s unhoused citizens and shines a light on the people working to help them. The Pulitzer Prize–winning author follows Dr. Jim O’Connell, president of the Health Care for the Homeless Program, as he and his Street Team listen to and advocate for some of the city’s most vulnerable residents. Kidder’s audiobook explores the magnitude of the problem—a volatile mix of addiction, institutional poverty, untreated mental illness, and political red tape—while also focusing on Dr. Jim’s solutions. We were moved by the heartbreaking and relatable stories of some of the real people behind the headlines, and Kidder’s narration is plainspoken and empathetic. Rough Sleepers is a tough but necessary listen that offers lots of insight and even a little hope.
Frank Yet Compassionate
Tracy Kidder does an artful job of telling Dr. Jim’s story—and the myriad stories of his patients—with a perfect balance of candor and tenderness. Kidder never seems to sugarcoat the harsh realities of life on the streets, yet neither does he stray into the realm of maudlin in his sharing of many tales that tug at the heartstrings. Reality, with its many tragedies and triumphs, is more than enough to move the reader.
I would highly recommend the audiobook; Kidder’s own narration transcends the text and infuses each line with authenticity and delightful glimmers of the many personalities he brings to life.