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“Pay attention to [Mary Jane] Nealon—she’s a keeper. . . . I desperately wish skilled poets like Nealon wrote at least half of all memoirs. This is to be savored. There are mediations on life, death, leaving, returning, growing, healing; I will reread it.”
—★Library Journal


“Beautiful Unbroken is about the power of language as well as the power of compassion. But this memoir is above all an examination of a life, which is an examination of a conscience. And, after having traveled through the wilderness with Nealon, her readers may find themselves confronted with essential questions: What do we owe our fellow citizens, our society, our family, ourselves?”—Jane Brox, Bakeless Prize judge


“A luminous work of loss and healing.”—Paul Austin, author of Something for the Pain: Compassion and Burnout in the ER


 Evocatively told, Nealon's stirring story provides insight into the small acts that ease great pain. 

-- Publisher’s Weekly


“Simultaneously an elegiac memoir and a sparkling prose-poem.”—★Kirkus Reviews


“It is tempting to relax and allow the music of Nealon’s prose to carry one’s mind lightly over the

gentle caress of her words and phrases . . . . But to do so would be to miss the raw power of her

story. . . . This is no ordinary medical memoir about the grueling journey through school,

midnight shifts on wards, and encounters with dying patients. It is a song to caregiving.”



“Superb. . . . Nealon’s prose is spare and haunting. . . . Nealon’s writing is not mere catharsis. As the best memoirists do, Nealon holds her own experience up as a mirror for the reader. A mirror, and also a challenge. Again and again she asks herself—and us—to question the limits of empathy: ‘What is our responsibility when we stand alongside each other? At the elevator, at a bus stop, when ordering a bacon and tomato sandwich on rye, buying a movie ticket?’ Beautiful Unbroken convinces us that nurses, whose daily lives are steeped in both suffering and compassion, are in a unique position to pose such questions. It makes us wish for more literature by nurses—especially by this one.”—The Boston Globe


“Nurses are the frontline soldiers of the healthcare field, witnessing atrocities in the trenches that most of us never see. But while many great doctor-authors—Richard Selzer, Lewis Thomas—have brought poetic insight to their calling, there are far fewer well-known memoirs from this essential profession. Mary Jane Nealon remedies that lack with her vivid and stirring account of a life spent ministering to the terminally ill, diffusing the suffering and grace she’s encountered into these pages.”—The Barnes & Noble Review


“[Nealon’s] poetic sensibility runs through the book, which becomes an elevated meditation on the meaning of her work. there’s nothing pretty about nursing, she makes clear, and maybe there’s nothing pretty about the urges behind becoming a healer; the yearning to be saintly, the idea that, in the hurdles and heartbreak of the lives of others lie the keys to one’s own.”—Daily News (New York)

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