At Least You Have Your Health by Madi Sinha

In “At Least You Have Your Health” by Madi Sinha, Dr. Maya Rao is a gynecologist who isn’t completely satisfied with her situation but is working hard to set a foundation to move her career and her family forward. She writes a grant to host community outreach classes about women’s health. It gets rejected. She enrolls her 9-year-old in the best Philadelphia-area private school. Her daughter isn’t fitting in.

The day the grant is rejected, Maya blows up at a patient, who also happens to be the wife of the hospital’s new CFO. Her job at the hospital clinic is over. As luck would have it, another parent at the private school, Amelia DeGilles, offers Maya a job, almost on the spot, with a concierge wellness clinic she runs.

Maya begins making house calls to the wealthiest and most private women in the community. The lines between patient and client become blurred as Maya balances professional ethics with the demands of the clinic’s clients. Some of them insist on healing crystals instead of proven medical treatment. Others reject prescriptions and ultrasounds, in favor of vitamin supplements and good vibes.

As the child of immigrants, Maya has grown up with the expectation of that she must never stop working until she is the best. She is at a point in her life where she is trying to reconcile those expectations with her own desires. She is troubled to find her own desires may align. She has worked hard, why not want a better house, private school for her kids, and a car without a broken side mirror? Maya is flawed but relatable, trying to balance family and work, expectations and reality.

Easy to label as the villain, Amelia DeGilles is written with nuance and compassion. Her personal history of misdiagnosis explains her desire to empower woman to make their own medical decisions at her wellness clinic. It is easy to see why Maya and Amelia are drawn together into a fast friendship and business partnership.

Even though he was supposed to be an easy-going academic, Maya’s husband, Dean, did not appeal to me at all. They never have a conversation about him taking on any parenting duties. He doesn’t do kid drop-offs or pickups and whines the one time he has to take an afternoon off his work to attend to the kids. Maya subscribes to a meal kit service; Dean complains that no one eats the healthier food. Maya wants to switch the kid’s violin instructor; Dean says it’s too expensive. Dean doesn’t do anything but criticize Maya’s desire of upward mobility. Perhaps he’s supposed to be the voice of reason, but he comes across as dismissive. It’s easy to think, “We’ll be fine, stop worrying,” when your spouse is taking care of all the logistics of running a home and family, besides her own — more lucrative — career.

Overall, I thought “At Least You Have Your Health” was a face-paced, entertaining novel. There are nudges of the book that deal with classism, racism, and medical care access that give the story some weight. I loved the fluffier interactions between Maya and her entitled patients / clients. I found myself rooting for Maya, her career, and her kids. Even though she stumbled, she finds her way again.

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