A Final Arc of Sky: A Memoir of Critical Care and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy Used
$10.91
Condition: Used: Very Good
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

A Final Arc of Sky: A Memoir of Critical Care Hardcover – April 1, 2009


See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$4.90 $0.01

Best Books of the Month
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (April 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807072850
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807072851
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #696,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Over three decades, more than 4,000 patients and their loved ones have shared their most wrenching ultimate experiences with Culkin, a critical care nurse living near Seattle. In this compelling memoir, her moving reflections on life and death interweave clinical encounters with her own life. She looks back at the clockwork of hormones as she began her relationship with her future husband while working 12-hour shifts in a San Francisco intensive-care nursery, moving on to become a traveling nurse in Anchorage, then living in the Alaskan wilderness, completely alone at the edge of the civilized universe. Her marriage, sons, problems with her parents and family dynamics intertwine with memories of patients extricated from wreckage and an impromptu procedure in a helicopter on a patient who couldn't breathe. Culkin details the sisterhood of nursing, with its risks and stress and sharing cups of 0900 coffee, and her own bouts with multiple sclerosis. Describing her life as a flight nurse in the final chapters, Culkin sees herself and others clearly, and poetic juxtapositions make her sentences soar. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

This book gives us so much more than the details of Jennifer Culkin's experiences as an intensive care nurse; it lifts us into the world of the helicopter and into some of life's highest dramas. A Final Arc of Sky carries its 'mortal freight' with candid honesty as it addresses how we choose to live our lives, and sometimes how we end them. I loved the stories, the language, the point of view, but what I loved most was the way this book was able to break my heart-then mend it. —Judith Kitchen, author of Distance and Direction

"In this powerful, beautifully written memoir, Jennifer Culkin seems constitutionally incapable of sentimentality as a nurse and as a writer. Instead, she wields an irreverent sensibility like a scalpel and applies lyrical insights like a balm, unveiling a fierce and tender passion for her work and her family as she celebrates the 'accidental sacraments' that emerge from love and loss." —Sherry Simpson, author of The Accidental Explorer

"Rarely have we heard from such an eloquent yet urgent voice from the frontlines of mortality. Jennifer Culkin, a writer of enormous talents, brings us too close for comfort to a variety of intense locales: the wreckage of a highway pileup, the inside of a pediatric intensive care unit, her father's deathbed. She writes with elegiac grace and unblinking honesty of our collective determination to sustain life, limb, and, above all, dignity."—Robin Hemley, author of Invented Eden: The Elusive, Disputed History of the Tasaday

"A Final Arc of Sky is one of the very few books I've read that is simultaneously 'I-can't-stop-turning-pages' riveting and profoundly meditative. With her electrifying scenes, her gorgeous sentences, and her provocative explorations of the borderland between life and death, Culkin engaged my heart, my intellect, my artistic sensibility, and my adrenaline. A remarkable debut."—Ann Pancake, author of Strange as This Weather Has Been

"Jennifer Culkin initiates her readers into the high-stress world of critical care medicine, and as she shows us her profession with all its costs and rewards she also reveals the way such work both hardens and opens us to the things of this earth. A Final Arc of Sky is an unstinting inquiry into life-and death-accomplished in lean, graceful prose."—Jane Brox, author of Clearing Land: Legacies of the American Farm

Customer Reviews

And throughout the book, there is the author's wit.
K. Russell
It was almost as if her thoughts dropped off and several times I found myself wondering if I was going to find out what happened next or if it would be forgotten.
Kindle Customer
First of all, let me say, Jennifer Culkin is a wonderful writer who can tell a compelling story.
Maudeen Wachsmith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By K.Wagner VINE VOICE on April 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book has only one failing as far as I am concerned. It is far too short.

The episodes related in this book range from critical care for infants in PICU units, to lifesaving measures applied while being bounced around in a helicopter. Each of the stories told by the author of her experiences on the job are mirrored by other stories about her personal life. This serves to make a very compelling read.

The style of this author is informal and down to earth. This is a style I enjoy when reading a memoir. It provides a sort of intimacy that is not to be found by a more formal approach.

I will indeed recommend this book to my friends, and I will also hope for a volume II by Jennifer Culkin.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jamie Holcomb on April 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
After working as a NICU and PICU nurse, Culkin becomes a flight nurse. She describes harrowing life and death scenes, scenes whose outcome is known only if it is bad. If the patient dies in the air, she knows it. If the patient recovers... well, that happens on someone else's watch. Telling her story in a thematic, rather than linear, arrangement, Culkin juxtaposes particular flights with more or less loosely related fragments of her own life: the growing up of her sons, especially the younger; her daredevil bike rides, surprising in someone who works with trauma patients; her parents' aging, illness, and descent into selfishness; her own struggle with multiple sclerosis. For me, the hardest parts of the book to read were those about her parents' final illnesses. Both become querulous, irrational, and self-centered, wanting those they love to perform backbreaking labor to care for them and refusing to accept outside help. None of the book is exactly easy to read--Culkin isn't the kind of memoir writer who carefully balances the grim with the hopeful, and there's a dark edge even to her beloved bike rides--but these sections are just plain ugly. The last chapter, in which she details some of the colleagues she's lost to helicopter crashes, had me almost in tears. Again, she starts not with the first time this happens to her, but the most recent, looping back and forth through the connections. The nonlinear format, which is sometimes disorienting in other places, works particularly well in this last chapter.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By K. Russell on June 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
While I love memoirs and creative non-fiction essays, what I don't love is the world of medicine, doctors, and nurses, so I was surprised to find myself unable to stop reading Jennifer Culkin's first book. I read it in 2 days and it was one of my favorite reads of the year.

What I loved about it was the author's honesty and ability to weave her life as a flight nurse in with stories of her childhood and her family life. She speaks to the difficulty of caring for elderly parents (in this case, two who feel they are doing quite well on their own), the family struggles with siblings, and she does it with honestly, not trying to hide that everything is less than perfect, she makes no excuses for herself, but speaks to the reader as a friend--this is how it was.

And throughout the book, there is the author's wit. While the book does deal with difficult subjects, she is able to guide the reader through her book with her incredible forward-moving narrative as well as her ability to see the humor in unfunny situations.

The book is moving, dark, funny, honest, and gives the reader the inside scoop on what life is like for a flight nurse. I know how many times I've seen the medic helicopters go by my house with no idea what these people do and how they do it. It's an interesting look into a side of the medical world that isn't included on Grey's Anatomy or really, anywhere. And while I am not someone who reads medical memoirs, I connected with this one in many ways. And as I said, I couldn't put it down and I was interested in Culkin's thoughts and stories.

What a treat to have such a strong new voice in the creative non-fiction/memoir world. I can now only hope I don't have too long to wait until her next book.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lex on July 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this book in less than 2 days. I don't know the author but work with flight nurses on a daily basis.

Every chapter has a different feel. Some are extremely personal about dealing with her parents, her siblings, feelings about her children and parenting and especially touching is the one about her struggles with multiple sclerosis. Other terrific chapters trace why and how her parents came to their own, very different, conclusions about end-of-life issues.

As a health care provider as well, I especially appreciated her insights about how people who work with critically ill patients have quite different approach to dealing with illness when people we love get sick.

Chapters on aging parents should be required reading for anyone over 60!

Finally, her writing style is lovely -- I re-read multiple sentences just because they were so thoughtful.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Fellow FN on June 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As someone who has experienced life similarities, minus the diagnosis of MS, I find Ms. Culkin's memoir eerily accurate in facts, feelings, and experiences. She clearly vasillates between the searing emotion of her own dying parents, (as the only child with medical knowledge) and the connections made with parents of dying children. The flight team memories touched my heart. Please keep writing.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews


More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?