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Mountains Beyond Mountains (Adapted for Young People): The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World Hardcover – April 9, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-An adaptation of the 2003 adult book with the same title. It is an admiring biography constructed from long stretches of personal experience with Farmer, international health specialist and infectious disease expert, whose focus was always the Haitian poor. Farmer has spent his life taking modern medicine (as well as schools, houses, sanitation, and water systems) to a poverty-stricken area of Haiti and to underdogs around the world. Lending "a voice to the voiceless," and working as a clinician as well as an organizer, he developed Partners in Health, funded first by a Boston philanthropist and later by the Gates Foundation and now internationally active. While French's adaptation follows the same sequencing, his compression removes much of the detail that made the original so readable and interesting. Omissions make episodes difficult to understand and, at least in one case, a description of one character is applied to another. Still, books showing how one person can make a difference are always welcome in young adult literature and this one will be appreciated where the young readers' edition of Greg Mortensen and David Oliver Relin's Three Cups of Tea (Dial, 2009) has been popular. But for the full flavor of the man's life and his impact on the author, older readers should seek out the original.-Kathleen Isaacs, Children's Literature Specialist, Pasadena, MDα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Kidder’s inspiring story of American doctor Paul Farmer has now been adapted—to good effect—for young readers, with the help of coauthor French. As Kidder demonstrates, Farmer is a remarkable man. A noted epidemiologist who has worked with such infectious diseases as tuberculosis and AIDS, he is also a medical anthropologist, a clinician, and an expert in public health. His ambitious goal is to improve health policy for the poor on a global scale. By making himself a presence in the book, Kidder becomes a surrogate for the reader as he travels with Farmer to the slums of Lima, Peru; the prisons of Russia and Siberia; and to Farmer’s base, in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and a place Farmer has loved since he was a college student. Kidder expertly provides context for Farmer’s life and work, including a look at his eccentric upbringing and his relationships with friends and colleagues. Though sometimes complex, the story is always accessible and often fascinating. Best of all, its focus on Farmer the humanitarian provides a much-needed education in empathy. Grades 7-12. --Michael Cart
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Farmer's life work has been about bringing health care to the poor and the imprisoned. In the case of the poor, mainly to the peasants of Haiti and the TB-ridden inhabitants of the slums of Lima, Peru. In the case of the imprisoned, the prisoners in Russia with multi-drug resistant TB.
Astoundingly, Farmer worked his way through Harvard Medical School while spending most of his time in Haiti, putting into practice every day what he was learning through his studies. Mostly, he did his studies remotely. I would guess that he may have been the only student in the medical school's history to have ever done that. While he showed up only to take his exams, it was hard for the university administration to object since he was one of the top students.
After graduation, he simply continued what he was already doing, ministering to the poorest of the poor. Slowly, he built up a far-flung organization around him, staffed by a mixture of low-paid professionals and unpaid volunteers, and largely funded by donations from a Boston real estate developer. In Haiti, they built a hospital in a remote location on the central plateau, expanding it piece by piece as funding allowed, and eventually turned it into a pilgrimage place for the international health community and the rural poor alike.
On the side, Farmer put out an astounding variety and quantity of books, articles and speeches. Over the last 20 years or so, he appears to have single-handedly published about as much as an entire university department. That he did this while trekking to remote Haitian villages, flying around the world constantly, running clinics and hospitals, AND practicing hands-on medicine, passes all understanding.
This man is a sort of Mother Teresa, Albert Schweitzer and Carl Sagan all rolled into one. The story would seem unbelievable if I didn't have confidence in the author, Tracy Kidder, a couple of whose books I have read and who did in fact spend several years writing this book. Interestingly, this is the first of his books where he actually appears as an active participant and not simply an observer. I guess this was the kind of story where to pretend to be the impartial narrator would have seemed downright callous.
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Mountains Beyond Mountains