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Wide Open Curtains: A Journal of a Pregnant American in Russia Paperback – December 22, 2012
About the Author
Amanda Lynn Hinson is a Minnesota native living in Russia with her husband and four children, the last child being born on Russian soil. She currently works as a contributing editor for The Humanities and Social Studies of the Far East, a science journal; and is a singer/songwriter/public speaker for various venues in Russia and America. Before moving to Russia, she graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Mass Communications, winning the National Collegiate Communications Award and Mass Communications Student of the Year in 2001. Amanda went on to work as a TV Producer for Hughston Sports Medicine of Columbus, GA before opening and running her own video business in MN. She has written scores of articles for newspapers, several productions for theaters, and now the book, "Wide Open Curtains: A Journal of a Pregnant American in Russia".
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With the current state of the health care debate back here in the states, I was eager to read this account, perhaps expecting a glimpse into where our own system may be heading. While I was not at all disappointed with the detailed information provided, I must say that reading this book exceeded my expectations in so many other, delightful ways.
Ms. Hinson allows us to follow her journey. We get to experience her concerns and frustrations, but also her gratefulness and appreciation for the kind and caring people she encountered. This book could have easily turned into a "look how backwards that non-American system is--Aren't we so superior?" type of expose, but it doesn't. What Ms. Hinson provides is a first-hand, factual account of her experience in the system, warts and all. When a procedure does not make sense, she says so. When a senseless bureaucracy overwhelms her, she lets us know. But when she encounters innovative thinking, practical advice, and committed practitioners, she tells us that as well.
Ms. Hinson's sense of humor and skill in descriptive language makes Wide Open Curtains an engaging read. A shorter, rounder desk worker is known throughout the book as "Ms. Teapot." An unnerving description of a somber room, where six dull-eyed, expectant mothers are hooked to an assembly line of IVs, is lightened somewhat as the Author expresses her fervent wish to avoid the "Room of Utter Boredom." Ms. Hinson's ability to describe people and scenes brings us right into the culture with her. By the time we have finished, we feel well-versed in diverse, abstract concepts like "Bahili," "Spravki," and "Oxygen Cocktails."
I would be remiss if I failed to mention the strong thread of faith winding through the contents of this book. I found the honest portrayal of the Hinsons' faith to be both inspiring and encouraging, especially considering the uncertain times we face in our own nation right now. From the mutual kindness and friendship between the Hinsons and the faithful cab driver, Cola, to the heartfelt prayers Amanda sends heavenward during the most desperate moments, their faith in Christ rings clear. Their mission, the reason they are in Russia in the first place, is not the main subject of the book. Yet, we get to peer into their hearts through the narrative. They are not there to criticize, or even impart our American values on the Russian society. Instead, they are immersed in the culture, struggling within the system, making friends, demonstrating love while receiving it in return. Amanda, herself, is continually learning and growing, coming to some difficult conclusions, born of the adversity she is often facing. "This is just a framework pointing to heaven," she tells herself at one low point, "If Russia's healthcare system fails, the only God can help us now." The same heartfelt prayer could be uttered by each of us, back here at home.
I highly recommend this outstanding book.
Flight of the Angels
It's Call the Midwife with a deep faith in God.
Most recent customer reviews
If you have lived or plan to live in Russia, read it.