Reading has always been a big part of my life. My parents have always encouraged reading since I was in the womb (this is not a joke). As a result, I have become a huge bookworm. Despite the fact that I have probably read over a hundred books, none of them have ever affected me in too big of a way, except one book.
Six years ago, when I was in 2nd Grade, I was given a book to read for my English class. It was called A Doctor Like Papa by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock. The book follows Margaret, a young girl who wants to study medicine to be a doctor like her father. Her mother discourages this because ‘doctoring’s no kind of life for a woman.” Spoiler alert: her mother eventually relents and allows Margaret to study medicine and she becomes a doctor when she is an adult. The book is set during the last few years of World War 1.
If I am being honest, I do not remember much of the book anymore since I have not read it in over three years, but I do remember the two things that really affected me.
This book was meant for very young children and was only 100 pages, making it easy for me to finish the book in one sitting. In the book a virus breaks out in Margaret’s village. Margaret and her younger brother are sent away to their aunt’s house to live until the virus passes. But while traveling the two siblings get lost and stumble upon a house with a family who was sick with the virus. Margaret uses her limited knowledge in medicine and tries to help the family members. She is only able to save one member, a young girl who is slightly younger than her. In the book the young girl’s parents and baby brother were taken by the virus.
Even as a seven year old, I would fully get into the books I read and thinking about suddenly losing my parents struck me hard. I had always imagined that death only happened to the elderly, but this book made me realize that it can happen at any time. Up until that point I had not given death much thought. Why would I? A seven year old is more concerned about when their next playdate will be, not when their last breath would be.
This book made me realize that death is not just talk, it can actually happen and it does happen in real life.
The second thing that affected me happened a couple years after my first read of the book. Because of the interesting plot and its short length, A Doctor Like Papa became one of my favourite books to reread when I got bored.
One day, when I was nine or ten, I decided to reread the book and while reading a realization hit me. Margaret was just like me! She had a dream (she wanted to be doctor) and she never gave up on it, even when her mother would discourage it. It reminded me of what my Dad would always tell me “follow your passion and ignore what others say.” This really made me believe in what my Dad said even more.
After all, if someone as brave and headstrong as Margaret could get what she wanted just by working for it and sticking to her dream, why can’t I?
As you can see, this book really affected me at a young age, which is saying a lot considering books do not usually affect me too much. That book will always be one of my favorites and will always be a reread for rainy days.