Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Book Review (and giveaway): In Stitches by Dr. Tony Youn

Tony Youn was too tall and too thin, wore thick Coke-bottle glasses, braces, Hannibal Lecter headgear, and had a protruding jaw that one day began to grow to an unthinkable, monstrous size.  After high school graduation, while other seniors partied at the shore or explored Europe, Youn lay strapped in an oral surgeon’s chair as he broke his jaw, then reset it and wired it shut for six weeks.

It was this brutal makeover that led him to his life's calling -- and the four years of angst, flubs, triumphs, non-stop studying and intermittant heavy drinking that eventually earned him an M.D. Thanks to a small circle of close friends and an obsessive drive to overachieve, Youn transformed from a shy, skinny, awkward nerd with no confidence and no clue into a renowned and successful plastic surgeon.

That's Amazon's description of Youn's memoir. It doesn't do the book justice.

I'm not usually a memoir reader. I've read exactly two - this was the second. The only reason I read it was so that I could write a story for the paper (you can read it here). When I picked up the book, I figured it couldn't be that bad - there's a Barbie carcass on the cover. I gave myself a few days to read it, but that wasn't necessary. I finished it in two days. 

Dr. Tony Youn
In Stitches is a candid look at life in a strict Korean home, the struggles of getting into and surviving med school, and Youn's determination to to succeed at it all while finding a girlfriend. At the risk of sounding like a cheesy 80s movie promo: you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder if Youn secretly analyzes everyone he meets and makes lists of things that need improvement.

Since I don't usually read memoirs, I don't have any history with which to compare this book. I can, however, vouch for its extreme entertainment value. I would give this book a PG-13 rating (R, if you're more conservative), so keep that in mind when you pick it up (because you really should pick it up).


In fact, I'd like to help you pick it up, so I'm going to give away a free copy (isn't that just like me?). You know the drill - leave me your email addy in a comment and I'll put you in the running. A winner will be picked on July 30, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, you can learn more about Dr. Youn at


Anonymous said...

hi karin! this is marie and i just want to say that we loved having you and matt at the bonfire. thanks for coming! i'm fascinated to read this memoir, especially after hearing your comments. possibly we'll be able to have an ad hoc discussion of it at one of our book club meetings after i've read it . . . am tentatively planning on thursday, sugust 25 for our next meeting.

Lindsey S. said...

My sister gave me a copy of this book since Youn is from my hometown of Greenville, Michigan. I can only begin to understand the pressure the Youn family felt in our community, being at the time a small knit community of a few thousand.

Youn's brutal honesty and frankness about his struggle to fit in and find his way in the world struck a chord that I think the nerd in all of us can appreciate.

I don't need another copy of the book... but hope others will appreciate it as much as you and I did. :)

Camille said...

Ok, sign me up!