I have a passion for biographies, autobiographies and memoirs. I must admit, next to suspense novels, they are my favourite types of books to read! I also studied a lot of social history when I was in school so I’m always drawn to books related to that subject area as well. For these reasons, I was keen to read Something to Prove: A Daughter’s Journey to Fulfill a Father’s Legacy by Yvonne S. Thornton (with Anita Bartholomew). I was a bit concerned, because Thornton had previously written a book that I haven’t read (called The Ditchdigger’s Daughters) about her family that I might not enjoy it as much without the first book under my belt. I was really glad I decided to read Something to Prove because I couldn’t have been more wrong!
Something to Prove is the story of Yvonne Thornton and her experiences as a female African-American doctor from the 1980s to the present day. In the early parts of the book, Thornton talks about her family history and how it influenced some of her beliefs and her strong work ethic. The wisdom shared by her father throughout her life (which appear as quotes at the beginning of each chapter) also play a strong role in Thornton’s life because she draws on the things she learned from her father as she deals with the obstacles and prejudice presented by some of her colleagues and supervisors in the medical field. Thornton also talks about how she is able to use the skills she honed as a performer in her youth to help her during some difficult encounters that she experienced.
In addition to writing about her professional life, Thornton also shares her experiences balancing life as a working mother and raising two children. The love that she feels for her husband and her children shines through her memoir and it is obvious that she regrets the times when she had to put her job ahead of her family when she chronicles how she almost missed some important events in her children’s lives because of her job. She also writes about why she found it so important to chronicle the lives of her parents in her first book and the struggles she faced as she tried to make the book a reality while dealing with her sisters (who didn’t all agree with the publishing of the book).
While I have little interest in the medical field, from the beginning of this book (when Thornton talks about a difficult delivery experienced by one of her patients) and her arrival at a her new job where it becomes obvious that her colleagues didn’t realize she was a female African American doctor, I was hooked by both the style of her writing and her perspective on the events of her life. I loved the ease in which Thornton tells her story – her whole book has a conversational tone and she is able to explain the most complex medical events in a way that someone with no medical knowledge (such as myself) can easily understand. This book is about so many different things — the importance of family, balancing a career and a personal life as well facing adversity head-on — yet they all flow together easily and result in an interesting and entertaining book. I was so intrigued and engaged in Something to Prove that I ended up reading the book in one night!
I enjoyed this book tremendously and I would suggest that anyone who enjoys memoirs or social history should read Something to Prove! Based on how much I enjoyed this book, I’m actually going to look for Thornton’s first book about her family (The DitchDigger’s Daughters) as I really want to read it as well!