Sheri Fink’s Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital is a stunning piece of journalism that shows the best and worst of humanity in the 21st century. For most of the world, spending one’s entire life in a society structured by laws and morals is the norm and anything different is barbaric. However, within five days, the survivors of Hurricane Katrina trapped inside Memorial Hospital quickly lose connection with the way the outside world works. They resort to acting in what they see as the most appropriate line of action.
Unfortunately, medicine today is extremely dependent on modern technology, leaving care in an almost prehistoric state when power and water are cut off. Memorial Hospital had been flooded during a previous hurricane, but the plans to move the generators from the basement to an above-ground level never progressed past the blueprint stage. If those plans had been followed, how many people would have survived?
This book really draws the reader’s attention to what the world is unfortunately like in a very clear, easy-to-follow manner. Fink makes reading her work simple through her unique choice of words and sentence structure. She has a clever way of describing what she wants the reader to see by changing the frame of reference from one person to another so the reader is able to view all sides of the disastrous story.
Five Days at Memorial, though very good, should not be read by anyone who is looking for a cheerful book. If it happens to be on your to-read list, be warned: there are many gloomy realities on its pages.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.