Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Book Review: Second Suns by David Oliver Relin

When I first received my copy of this book as an advanced reader copy, I had skimmed the cover and dove directly into reading the first chapter.  It was only in a brief moment, when I had set my book aside that I head realized that the author, David Oliver Relin, was dead.

Suddenly, what was once a compelling story, became now also a very bittersweet tale, knowing that while the world now knows the bright and hopeful tales of two doctors, it also is the last story for Relin to tell.

At the end of the book, Relin writes "Some books you want to write. Others you have to write."  You don't have to get farther than the first chapter to realize that there is a sense of destiny that brings the American ophthalmologist Geoffrey Tabin together with his Nepalese counterpart Sanduk Ruit.  Tabin, a bombastic character with a sense of adventure, and Ruit, teaming up to bring eyesight to the blind and innovate surgical procedures to be cheap, believing that everyone should have access to eyesight, not just the privileged.

Through the span of time covered, Relin is very adept at weaving their collective tale as they fight against not just less-than-ideal conditions in remote areas, but also political machinations, in order to ultimately build a base for artificial lenses in Kathmandu that makes it possible for them to spread their practices, and provide sight to people in China and Rwanda.

Some other customer reviews I have seen have argued that Relin's account can get a little tedious at times, and to a certain extent I agree.  However, the profound goodness in these stories covers the majority of tediousness, and Relin overcomes slow points with more engaging anecdotes soon to follow.

All-in-all, a beautiful read that reminds you of the amazing amount of good that can be accomplished to bring light to a world shrouded in darkness.

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