(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Everything you ever wanted to know about childbirth, and then some, is cleverly presented in this tome about the nights in the life of Holly Treadwell, a composite character based on the nurse-midwives the author interviewed and observed while researching this book. A feisty young crusader from Philadelphia, Holly jokes, cries, and catches babies on the frenzied obstetrics ward of New York’s Morrison Hospital--a monolith modeled after Bellevue.

At first, this book reads like an expanded version of Holly’s own birth journal: Case after case, each a close call, is recounted now in technical, now in narrative form. The story gains momentum, however, as Holly keeps bucking a system so overloaded that the quality of a baby’s birth usually falls by the wayside. When Holly finally burns out, the stage is set for briefer glimpses of all the choices that are still involved in the home births of the daring and the ultra-planned births of the well-to-do.

DELIVERY: A NURSE-MIDWIFE’S STORY is a bold experiment in presenting fact as fiction. In doing so, it sometimes lapses into bald, journalistic explanations of rare complications, and it is often a victim of rather hackneyed prose. Nevertheless, it generally manages to tread the fine line between clinical fact and compelling fiction, thus informing as it entertains.