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In Stitches

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Scrubs meets David Sedaris in this hilarious fish-out-of-water memoir about a young Korean-American nerd turned renowned plastic surgeon.

Dr. Tony Youn grew up one of two Asian-American kids in a small town where diversity was uncommon. Too tall and too thin, he wore thick Coke-bottle glasses, braces, Hannibal Lecter headgear, and had a protruding jaw that one day began to grow, expanding to an unthinkable, monstrous size. After high school graduation, while other seniors partied at the beach or explored Europe, Youn lay strapped in an oral surgeon’s chair where he underwent a life-changing jaw reconstruction. Ironically, it was this brutal makeover that led him to his life’s calling, and he continued on to endure the four horrific, hilarious, sex-starved, and tension-filled years that eventually earned him an M.D. Offering a window into a side of medicine that most people never see, Youn shares his bumpy journey from a shy, skinny, awkward nerd into a renowned and successful plastic surgeon.

Now, Youn is the media’s go-to plastic surgeon. He appears regularly on The Rachael Ray Show, and his blog, Celebrity Cosmetic Surgery, is widely read and the most popular blog by a plastic surgeon in the country. But it was a long road to success, and In Stitches recounts Dr. Youn’s misfit adolescence and his four tumultuous years in medical school with striking wit, heart, and humility.

For anyone who has ever experienced the awkward teenage years, who has struggled to find his or her way in college, who has been worried that their “calling” would never come, who wants to believe that their doctor really cares, or is just ready for a read that will make you laugh and cry at the same time, this book is for you.

271 pages, Hardcover

First published April 26, 2011

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About the author

Anthony Youn

6 books95 followers
I am a plastic surgeon and anti-aging expert. I'm the author of the new memoir, "Playing God: The Evolution of a Modern Surgeon." My other published books include "In Stitches: A Memoir" and "The Age Fix: A Leading Plastic Surgeon Reveals How To Really Look Ten Years Younger."

I'm the host of the popular podcast "The Holistic Plastic Surgery Show" and a frequent guest on "The Rachael Ray Show," "The Doctor Oz Show," and "The Doctors."

For more information, please visit www.dryoun.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 230 reviews
Profile Image for Kara.
654 reviews315 followers
January 24, 2016
The vast majority of this book is awful. It's less about Youn becoming a doctor and more about him desperately chasing women.

I thought that because we're both Asian, because I currently live in Michigan, and because I work in healthcare, this book would be right up my alley. It was not. Youn, for most of the book, is just an unlikeable guy. I know this is kind of his coming of age story: he makes mistakes, he learns from them, he grows up. But he's kind of an immature brat. Another reviewer described his descriptions of women to be caricatures, and that's dead on. This is like a shitty Chelsea Handler book if Handler had been a sex-starved Korean male med student. It was not enjoyable.

Until the last quarter. As Youn starts doing rotations and stops chasing women, the book is actually interesting. If the whole book had been like this, it would've been a solid four stars.
19 reviews
March 25, 2011
Fantastic!!! One of the only books that I've ever read that captures both the humor and heart of medicine. This is also much more than a book about med school. It's a hilarious journey from nerdy outsider to celebrity plastic surgeon with interesting cultural perspectives (the author is Korean American and grew up in rural Michigan with a "Tiger Father".) If you want a "typical" med school book, well this is not it! Ranks up there with classics like House of God. Highly recommended.
77 reviews
September 4, 2011
In this memoir, Dr. Youn takes us from his childhood, growing up as the son of an OB/GYN and a member of the only Asian family in a small Michigan town, to his decision to become a plastic surgeon. The narrative ends on Match Day, when we learn where he'll go do his residency.

There are parts of this story that are memorable. His portrayal of his childhood--as a nerdy, ethnically self-conscious boy trying to fit in while juggling his parents' expectations--is both funny and touching. He shares an important insight about his family dynamics when we learn how his brother's academic performance ramped up pressure for him. Dr. Youn tells us early on about how he himself had undergone a surgery which changed his appearance and his perception of himself. Once he's in med school, there are some poignant interactions with patients, including a particularly difficult case that made him begin to consider Plastics.

Unfortunately, there were large chunks of this book that I did not like. The middle section seems more about his desperate attempts to date than about anything else. His characterization of women throughout is sophomoric. They are either ridiculously "hot" or trollish caricatures: the short "too Asian" girl; the aggressive gunner; the overweight med student huffing and puffing her way to orientation; the "large, Navajo, and unpleasant" student in the medical class below him. (This is all going to make for an awkward medical school reunion.)

I wasn't necessarily looking for anything sappy or overly sentimental, but I do prefer memoirs in which I feel that the author has grown in some way or has learned a lesson he wants to impart. At the very least, I'd like to have a sense of the author's self-awareness. If I were the ghostwriter, I would have focused on Youn's childhood, skipped ahead through most of the sexual angst, and then continued the story on into residency and maybe the first year or so of private practice. I would have provided follow-up on what happened to Youn's brother and what happened to the patient who was reportedly so instrumental in his career choice. There were missed opportunities to explore how a plastic surgeon feels about appearance and whether that gets distorted over the course of his training and career. Without some more meaningful undercurrent, the book became a collection of "a funny thing happened to me on the way to the OR" stories that were often just TMI.

Profile Image for Heather.
105 reviews10 followers
May 4, 2011
In this introspective and witty memoir, Anthony Youn, a young Korean doctor, shares the passage of his life from early childhood and adolescence to his frantic foray through medical school, culminating in his residency in plastic surgery. Though Anthony is a smart youngster and a dedicated student, he’s not very popular with his classmates during his formative years. Adding to this problem is the unending pressure from his father, a Korean immigrant who has become a successful obstetrician. After graduating high school at the top of his class, Anthony decides to go on to medical school at the urgings of his father. Despite the fact that he’s not sure he wants to be a surgeon or doctor, Anthony does exceedingly well in medical school and is also able to make a handful of cherished friends who go through the ups and downs together with him.

But what’s most pressing to Anthony isn’t the demands of medical school, but the fact that he can’t get a date to save his life. With the help of his more smooth and suave friends, Anthony finally finds himself at peace within a very successful relationship. But as year four of medical school continues, Anthony’s choice for a surgical residency is still up in the air. He works a bit in each field but finds himself unimpressed by all of them, until one life-changing evening when he finds himself at the elbow of one of the country’s most successful plastic surgeons.

Now Anthony is on a mission across the United States, learning from and practicing with some of the most renowned and eccentric plastic surgeons in an effort to complete his education and make himself eligible for residency. As he moves through the medical world, he shares his joys and failures, and comes to understand that his father’s wish for him is not so far from his own dreams. Both candid and funny, In Stitches shares Anthony’s journey from unpopular obscurity to the halls of medical artistry, and the choices he must make to get there.

This was a rather strange read for me. Though I’ve read quite a few memoirs, In Stitches was surprising because of its very brisk pace. I wanted to know more about Youn’s life, and from my perspective, it seemed like he glossed over things rather quickly. Though I admit that in writing the book this way the action was fast paced, I couldn’t help but feel like the story of Youn’s life was rushed. This breakneck pace had the curious effect of distancing me from the narrator instead of drawing me closer. Though so much was packed within the first few sections, I felt like I didn’t know him at all, which was the lamentable result of Youn’s fast-paced style.

Though I liked Youn, I found at times that he could be faintly misogynistic and sneering about women. This may have been because he was bitter about not getting any action, but the implications of his discussions about dating unattractive women in an effort to have sex just rubbed me the wrong way and made me feel a bit indisposed towards him. A lot of the first few sections were given over to his endless cogitation about his sexual urges and his attempts to get in a girl’s, any girl’s, pants. I ended up feeling that Youn was very immature, even in his reflections and digressions, and it bothered me that so much of his story revolved around his not being able to get lucky. I worried that the whole scope of this book was going to be self-absorbed and whiny, but luckily, when we moved into the second year of his medical schooling, things got a lot more interesting.

When Youn finally got a girlfriend and put his angst to rest, there were, at last, some interesting developments in the book. As he takes us on a tour of what it was like for him in medical school, the story rapidly picked up flavor and my interest. Here are the tales that I had been waiting for. The arrogant and insensitive doctors, the troubled and ill patients. Youn shares his reflections on the first surgery he attends and its unexpected outcome. He relates his experiences about being on call for days and how frazzled he was, and ultimately, he shares just what it was that made him decide to go into the field of plastic surgery. I felt that this section of the book was much more interesting and absorbing, and really felt that if the whole book had been written in this vein, it would have been a more successful read for me. It was almost as if there was an imperfect amalgamation between the two stories; one half-reflecting the same cares and woes that most teenage boys experience, and one half-filled with the exciting and fuel-laden drama of life as a medical student. It’s probably pretty clear to you which I preferred.

Though I didn’t really enjoy the first section of this book, the second half was in some ways redemptive. I guess it’s understandable for the sections that describe Youn’s adolescence to be turgid and at times immature, but I was glad when things moved on and there were more altruistic leanings to this memoir. If you’re not the type of reader to be bothered with such things, then I would recommend this book to you. It wasn’t what I had been expecting, but once the more difficult passages had been hurdled, I found myself really enjoying myself and curiously invested in the tale that Youn tells.
Profile Image for Khris Sellin.
545 reviews5 followers
May 29, 2022
A memoir of a plastic surgeon told in a series of stories, some funny, some devastating, about college, med school, and all he went through to become a doctor. The sections about his relationship with his parents are very touching. He seems very modest and down to earth and, most importantly, has a great sense of humor about all of it.
97 reviews12 followers
August 13, 2021
I read his other book the age fix and it was a good informative book but honestly his memoir sucks. Half the book is about how horny he is and how he’s so desperate to date and whatnot. I think the parts how him and his dad interacted and how he found his calling for plastic surgery was interesting but the middle was sooo repetitive about how he kept looking for a girl tbh and those parts seemed like a high schooler was writing the book.
Profile Image for Tim Chamberlain.
50 reviews2 followers
May 23, 2012
A funny and touching memoir that puts doctors in a new light.

In a story that opens up the world of the med school student, Anthony Youn also delivers the story of his personal journey in ways that are both heartfelt and hilarious.

In Stitches is the story of Youn (also known as Tony) and how he became a successful plastic surgeon. He is driven by his strict, over-achieving Korean father to become a doctor, and not just any doctor--Tony should become a surgeon. His father’s belittling of other medical fields (“Pediatrics? No. Little kids, little dollah!”) is absolutely hilarious as long as you’re not on the receiving end. You get the complete story of the difficult journey to becoming a doctor, and you may honestly wonder (between laughs) how anyone actually finishes.

A major theme of Tony’s life up until med school is his haplessness with women and his inability to really do much about it. There are several hilarious date stories (the fire eater might be my favorite), and these only serve to demonstrate both Tony’s frustrations and his humanity. This is such a theme for him (and apparently many med students) that he admits that he is “going to med school to get laid.” After reading his stories, this makes a lot of sense.

For all of the female frustration that Tony experiences, he finally does triumph in the ladies department--you may find yourself giving a little fist-pump of joy when he chooses his future wife over another woman.

There was a defining event in Youn’s life that may have started him on the path to becoming a plastic surgeon. In junior high, his jaw started growing at an alarming rate giving him an expanding underbite and making him into a bigger outcast. This culminates in the breaking and resetting of his jaw after high school graduation, a wildly painful but necessary experience. This appears to have been a major factor in Tony’s later career choice of plastic surgery--he can definitely empathize with many of the people he works on and it makes him a better doctor.

An interesting side note on the whole jaw business: Tony’s sensitivity to his own jaw issues cause him to examine the bite of every woman he finds good-looking. I’ve honestly never heard anyone talking about someone attractive and mentioning their “slight overbite” in the first sentence. It just goes to show that everyone has their own filter on life.

Youn’s descriptions of med school are both hilarious and frightening. Starting with his orientation speakers, med school sounds like a scary place where you will do nothing but work and hope to be able to finish. After reading about his later experiences in med school, this is not far off. However, the lone consoling joke also comes from the orientation: what do you call the person that finishes last in his med school class? Doctor. It’s a way of putting in perspective the difficulty of med school--all of you super-smart achievers are now in a group with all of the other super-smart achievers. It is a disorienting experience for Tony.

The stories from In Stitches that will stick with the reader the most come from Youn’s third and fourth years of med school. He does a series of rotations in different areas of medicine, ostensibly to help the student decide his future direction. Youn deals with everything from a sadistic intern to prison psychos and everything in between. He swings between humorous tales and genuinely touching stories with ease, and you will find yourself amazed that anyone can survive it all.

Ultimately this is a story of what it’s like to be an outsider told with humor and personality. It also helps puncture a couple of medical stereotypes: one, that doctors are perfect robots that make no mistakes, and two, that there is no humor in medicine. Granted, there seem to be plenty of humorless doctors out there, but Tony also introduces us to the hilarious, damaged and just plain weird doctors he has encountered. In Stitches also provides a glimpse into the rather insane world of the med student and how they survive the grueling process--the fact that this book is also laugh-out-loud funny is just a great bonus.
Profile Image for Karen Ng.
472 reviews89 followers
October 5, 2014
I love funny and heart-warming memoirs, and this one is one of, if not the best. I'm glad I didn't know Dr. Tony Youn is so well-known, otherwise I would have missed out on this little gem of a book, due to the fact that I usually avoid books written by Hollywood celebrities and the like.

Youn, a Korean American raised by very old-fashioned and stern Asian parents, recounted his childhood experiences up to and included his 4 years of medical school. His father, an OB/gynecologist, decided that Tony was going to be a surgeon right after he was born...and constantly reminded Tony of that; "Family Practice: Work all day, all night, weekend, make no money. Go broke! Surgery only thing. Psychiatry? No. Too many crazy people. Pediatrics? No. Little Kids, little dollah. Surgery! One proceejah, two thousand dollah!" Without doubt, Youn knew he was going to grow up becoming a doctor.

The book wouldn't be so fun to read if Youn lacked either the humor, or his deep understanding of life. I have read lots of so-called humor books that lack substance; the writer tried too hard to be funny. Youn has the talent of presenting us one joke after another within the same page or even paragraph. The humor is always just right. He knows exactly when to stop.

On the other hand, he has a pretty clear and deep sense of what life is all about; what make us human. One of my favorite passage was from his chapter on his Anatomy class, where he found a whole bin full of cadaver hands. This is what he wrote, "Doctors need to be detached, right? Impersonal. What is more personal than our face? Our hands. We use our hands for everything-to touch, to write, to build, to play, to cook, to clean, to feed, to feel, to guide, to caress, to love. Our hands serve us as extensions of our minds and our hearts....." It took Youn four year, or almost four years, to finally understand why he has become a doctor, and what he's going to do with it.

Every little joke, or experience in this book offers valuable insights for other students who's thinking about a medical career...or any student who's facing life. Youn is gifted in his writing style. He probably has the same witty personality that's wise and humorous. No wonder he's so well-known. This book deserves a 4.5 stars, and I'm eagerly waiting for another book.

Profile Image for CarolineFromConcord.
408 reviews16 followers
January 29, 2016
This is the memoir of a young plastic surgeon that people may know from the Rachael Ray Show. A friend said she loved the book, so although a medical memoir written with a ghost writer is not the sort of thing I would have picked up on my own, I decided to try it. Very interesting.

The doctor in question has a self-deprecating sense of humor, faces some big challenges, and demonstrates a level of kindness that you hope for in any doctor.

Anthony Youn grew up grew up in a tiny Michigan town, where his family were the only Koreans and stuck to traditions. His loving but driven father had grown up in abject poverty, one of nine children in a farming family that had no bathroom. The author's father worked ferociously and became an obstetrician in the United States, insisting that his son also take up medicine.

An embarrassingly protruding jaw that formed in Anthony's teens, gave the author his first experience with reconstructive surgery, but it wasn't until his last year of med school that he realized he wanted to be a plastic surgeon.

Every obstacle that he faces -- with being a teenage geek, with girls, with grueling med school experiences and half-crazy medical supervisors -- he describes with humor and even laugh-out-loud punch lines. His kindness to an old man who thought there was nothing to live for and to a terrified toddler left crying in the hospital suggest a person you might like to know. He sees horrific injuries requiring reconstruction, not just starlets wanting to look younger. And he discovers that he likes the relatively immediate results of this kind of work.

You might enjoy this insight into medical training and into the way a smart, disciplined, nice guy overcomes challenges.
Profile Image for Amy Brown (amylikestoreadalot).
999 reviews20 followers
July 27, 2011
This was so funny! I didn't expect it to be, but I really enjoyed it. Read it for my reading group: From Left to Write. It's the memoir of Tony Youn-about his years growing up as the only Asian in his small Michigan town, to his years in Med School. I learned some things about Med School, too. Tony's voice is fresh and hilarious. A good read!
Profile Image for Alyce (At Home With Books).
173 reviews75 followers
May 11, 2012
In Stitches is a great book to read if you have ever wondered what life is like in medical school. Anthony Youn takes the reader on a quick tour of his childhood years and then delves into the study-filled days and nights of life as a medical student.

During those years of college, his obsessions seemed to be split equally between his studies and his desire to find a girl who would stick around long enough for a second date (or even make it to the end of the first one). His self-deprecating humor can be a little over the top at times, but serves as a good contrast to the seriousness with which he addressed his studies.

The parts of the memoir that I enjoyed the most were those where the author discussed his passion for plastic surgery, and how he discovered that passion. When someone feels that strongly about something their enthusiasm shines through when they talk about it and it is contagious.

I didn’t know that much about the process that medical students go through (I’m not a fan of medical TV dramas, so that might have something to do with my ignorance), so Anthony Youn’s stories of his harrowing first year of study, the actors paid to pretend illnesses for the students to diagnose, and his time on rotations after that were informative and entertaining.

I know I shouldn’t have been surprised at how much work was involved, or how quickly the students get thrown into the fire when it comes to treating and diagnosing patients, but the harshness of the learning environment was shocking. For example, on his first day of rotations he is told to draw blood with no previous experience or training.

“Do the draw,” she says to me.
“As I mentioned a moment ago–”
“Do the draw! We don’t have all day.”
Hands shaking, mouth dry and tasting of paste, I fumble with the needle kit she hands me.
Word of advice.
When you’ve got a razor-sharp implement in your hand and your job is to puncture someone’s flesh, take your time. Not great to search for a vein when you’re on the clock. Page 155

Which brings me to another point – there is a decent amount of swearing in this book. I didn’t find it horribly offensive or anything, but it’s there (a point of which I was reminded when searching for the above quote, and had a hard time finding a way to excerpt it without including profanity).

The chapter about the third year rotations made me wonder if there wasn’t possibly a better way to initiate medical students into the actual hands-on portion of doctoring. It also made me want to steer clear of hospitals with medical students, and reaffirmed my belief that I made the right decision in pursuing a degree in the liberal arts.

I enjoyed this book and would love to read more about Anthony Youn’s subsequent years of training to become a plastic surgeon, and his experiences in the profession thereafter.
Profile Image for Scott Foshee.
203 reviews5 followers
July 14, 2015
Pleasantly Readable, but Disappointing

“In Stitches” by Anthony Youn, M.D. is a lightweight, readable and occasionally funny memoir about growing up Asian in a small Michigan town, going to medical school, and becoming a plastic surgeon. He is awkward in high school to say the least, and has to undergo brutal plastic surgery on his jaw as a child to correct its abnormal growth. His parents are Korean and his doctor father pushes and pushes (and pushes) Youn to become a surgeon. Youn’s self-depreciating humor goes a long way to get us through the painful times and awkward stories about growing up.

This book is pleasantly readable, but I didn’t find it particularly compelling. A theme running throughout the book is him trying “to get laid” (his term), which I found fairly offensive, and his making fun of other Asians, oddly enough. He continually emphasizes his father’s heavy Korean accent for comic effect and he complains about being put in an Asian dorm at medical school that smells like Thai food. Really? Do we really need this? One would expect that someone who grew up as a geeky outsider would be a little more sensitive here.

It wasn’t until after I finished this book that I found out that Dr. Youn has had many television appearances (Rachael Ray, etc.) talking about plastic surgery. This media exposure may be the reason why this book gets so many higher ratings, but I just don’t see it. It has a few fairly interesting stories in a beach book sort of way, but that’s it. A book about overcoming childhood disfigurement and battling through medical school to become a prominent surgeon could have been so much more than a breezy recounting of (some fairly) humorous stories and (ironically enough) frat boy antics. I was disappointed.
Profile Image for Mary  BookHounds .
1,301 reviews1,783 followers
May 22, 2011
I have read several books about students and their path to becoming a doctor, but the one Anthony Youn wrote about his path is by far the best of the bunch. I read this is one night and didn't want the stories to end! I am now demanding a sequel about his stories, both heartwarming and humorous in his next journey of being a plastic surgeon. I had no idea he was on so many television programs, but now that I know his name and looked at a few You Tube videos, I am going to start checking out this personable physician. My favorite story in the book is about why he wanted to become a doctor and how his answer never strayed from the fact that he wanted to help people and get laid. Yes, he actually said that and I laughed out loud. He thought that being a doctor would make him more attractable to women!
Youn's thoughts cover a broad range of thoughts, like what it is like to be a real minority, have parents that make you do more than you think you are capable of and the importance of having a sense of humor. His sense of humor is evident throughout the book and he likes to poke fun at himself. I was really impressed that his path to becoming a plastic surgeon was built upon his own triumph of having surgery to correct his jaw which did not stop growing and caused a massive underbite. The fact that he understands deformity leads him to connect with his patients on a personal level and makes him that much better a doctor. There is truly a "Scrubs" type element when he writes about his internship and school years and it is amazing that anyone in this country ever becomes a doctor at all with all of the long hours they endure.
Profile Image for Leon.
16 reviews3 followers
September 24, 2011
This one is about a (now) famous plastic surgeon. [...]

The book is about Anthony Youn, a Korean American who was brought up by a very conservative (read: typical Korean) household. The expectations, because his father was a GYN, were set high for the Youn's siblings and he writes about how it was not just growing up in a Korean family but also about growing up in America as an Asian.

While I share many of his trials, the appeal to me was more about his tribulations on dating. Or lack thereof. The common denominator for me was his geekiness, awkwardness, and his constant quest to get a girl. If you were a geek back in the day when it was NOT cool, or nuanced to be one, you'd definitely connect with the author.

The in between lines were how Asians were treated (or ignored), how the dynamics of Asian vs. non-Asian dating made up the dating scene. And a lot of it was surprising. It wasn't as if Anthony was trying to avoid Asians, it was how he pursued and enjoyed spending time with non-Asians.

The book goes from his birth, through middle school, college, and med school, internships. The book is supremely fast read, humorous, poignant, and certainly entertaining. Liked it so much I've bought it for others.
10 reviews2 followers
January 22, 2015
"In Stitches", a book about plastic surgery and identity definitely changed my perspective on self-image. Originally, I though plastic surgery was for wealthy people who wanted to be more attractive. After reading the book, I now know that plastic surgery helps people with serious confidence and self esteem problems, as well as people with physical deformities that hurt them. This reason, among others, is why I really loved this book. In summary, the main character is a first generation immigrant from Korea. He has trouble fitting in throughout high school and college, but he gets very good grades and makes it into medical school. Tony finally finds that he can make friends, and finally he gets into plastic surgery to help others find acceptance in society. One of the reasons that I liked the book was because it was a light read and I finished in a couple days by reading several hours a day. However, it was still substantial and taught me a lot about social circles in higher educational institutions, as well as providing information about the academic workload in my future.
Profile Image for Bee.
11 reviews17 followers
May 15, 2011
A great book! Dr. Youn is so honest about his journey through college and med school; you really feel the struggles and cheer for the milestones reached that lead you to the final day when he becomes a doctor. It is also a funny and easy read. Even though I'm not a doctor; I'm glad to know that graduate students, no matter what field, at some point live through all nighters on Mountain Dew and Snickers.
1 review
March 27, 2011
Hilarious! I laughed and cried. This is not at all the book I expected to be written by a plastic surgeon. It is humble, funny, and touching. I was up at 3 am laughing so hard my husband woke up and asked me what was going on. A must read from a first time author! Tony Youn is like David Sedaris, Chelsea Handler, and Scrubs all in one. You will not regret reading this one.
Profile Image for Jenee Rager.
808 reviews7 followers
February 16, 2012
It's hard to be entertaining and informative but Anthony Youn does. I had no prior knowledge of his career, or even him until I picked up this book, but I found myself loving it. I have a child who wants to go to medical school when she grows up so this book kind of gave me an idea of what she would have to prepare for, both good and bad. All in all a good story I'm glad I read.
Profile Image for Sharyl Sicoli.
25 reviews
June 17, 2012

Didn't really enjoy the book until chapter six..... And then I started to remember all the stories of my husband and his journey through medical school.....the author truly captures what a wild ride it is.....and the patients and doctors you never forget.... No matter how tired you are......
Profile Image for Stacey Crossman.
17 reviews
July 7, 2016
Hilariously raw book about life growing up through becoming a well respected surgeon. His stories take you back to the pressures of being a kid and growing up not knowing what you were "suppose" to but what you had to do. One of my favorite books I've ever read.
Profile Image for Erin Schwane.
320 reviews
July 18, 2011
I enjoyed learning about medical school life but did not find this book to be well written. The attempts at humor and sarcasm were often too forced-sounding.
Profile Image for Suzanne.
1,628 reviews77 followers
December 23, 2013
Absolutely hysterical! Many, many laugh out loud moments. And yet, some very emotionally charged experiences that are anything but funny. You just can't help pulling for Dr. Youn!!
144 reviews
Want to read
July 30, 2011
I just won this book free as a goodreads giveaway! I am waiting to read it. Thanks.
Profile Image for Saloni (earnestlyeccentric).
576 reviews38 followers
November 11, 2017
Tony's decision to become a doctor was made at dinner, one night when he was seven years old. But being a doctor is the least on his mind. He desperately wants to fit in which is hard when you're practically the only Korean in a midwestern town. Goaded by his father, Tony goes to medical school, studying non-stop, dating (or at least attempting to) and just becoming frustrated in general.

A heart-touching and hilarious memoir, In Stitches gives you the inside scoop on the journey every medical student goes through to become a doctor, and more importantly, a good person. 

Spoilers ahead.

Since In Stitches is a memoir, this review will be a general review (rather than focusing on plot and pacing, characters, and writing style). 

The first few chapters really put me off because they were about his desires to share a bed with a woman (I am well aware there's a word for that--I just don't want to use it). However, the book evolved and so did Tony (thank goodness).

Although I've described this book as illustrating the journey to becoming a doctor, it's much more than that. It's about being comfortable with yourself. Tony starts out as a painfully shy and awkward nerd. He changes, though, and that makes this book totally worth reading. He becomes a man, mature and confident with himself. So really, this is a coming-of-age story.

I could relate a lot to Tony. Although I'm not an Asian in a Western country, stereotypes still follow me everywhere due to my Indian nationality. There was a time when I wanted to be "cool" like all the other white kids. I'm well past that stage and even embarrassed to bring back those memories. It was comforting to know I'm not the only who's felt the way Tony has. 

My favourite part of the story was when Tony's father comes into his room at night. His father tells him to follow the path which makes him happy (this was during his third year of medical school when Tony had to choose a field to specialise in).

That exchange made my heart melt. Despite his father forcing Tony into a medical career, he wants what his son to be happy. Forget grades, forget expectations. Happiness wins the competition here. 

Reading In Stitches has made me even more excited about pursuing a career in medicine. I'm not sure if this is because the author is a good writer, but I'm really hyped for medical school. Okay, maybe not that enthusiastic about all the studying but still! The satisfaction of making a change in a patient's life is what got Tony addicted to his career in plastic surgery.

A must-read for anyone who wants to become a doctor. Perhaps even for anyone who feels they are being pressurised to follow a certain career. 
Profile Image for DW.
482 reviews5 followers
October 28, 2017
I admit, this book made me laugh out loud several times. But that doesn't mean that the author isn't somewhat off-putting. The vignettes in this book fall in these categories:
* His Korean father's parenting style ("Family practice? Work all day, all night, weekend, make no money. Go broke! Surgery only thing. [...] Surgery! One proceejah, two thousand dollah!" p 187 Later, "If you want to go into family practice, it's okay. [...] You go broke. You probably have to move back home. But, that's fine. If that's what you really want, it's okay.") These stories were funny.
* His dating life, guided by the two-date rule: "If you don't get any action by the end of the second date, do not go for a third date." p120 I found these stories offensive. Also, he always italicizes gross anatomy class. What are we, twelve?
* Stories from med school that cast him as a heroic victim: the elderly woman who dies in front of him the first time he's alone in a room with a patient, his ogreish resident from his internal medicine rotation, his terrible living conditions, the prisoner who lunges at him during his psych rotation, his residency interview with a crazy attending surgeon: "'IT'S MONKEY TIME!' he screams again, then says quietly, 'Discuss.'" p260 These stories would be okay if not overwhelmed by the last category.
* Stories from med school that cast him as the hero: he wins over a prof who thinks he's an idiot; he convinces a belligerent, depressed man to have a life-saving surgery by telling the man a touching story; he tenderly rocks a crying baby to sleep at night; he does a perfect spinal tap on a 4-month old on his first try; he wows everybody by his skill at suturing; after witnessing a baby with its face horrifyingly eaten off by a raccoon late one night on call, he gallantly refuses the offer to take the rest of the night off (cue the swell of triumphant music). I just found these stories hard to swallow because they seemed at odds with the personality he describes the rest of the time: "I'm going to medical school, why? I, want, to, get, laid" p56 I also found the descriptions of his stint in Beverly Hills plastic surgery disturbing ... but I guess I find the whole idea of breast implants and nose jobs disturbing.

Anyway, so soon after reading This Won't Hurt a Bit: (And Other White Lies): My Education in Medicine and Motherhood, this book seemed needlessly self-aggrandizing, especially when he calls himself a doctor before starting his residency whereas Michelle felt like an imposter even after finishing her residency.

Also, we never find out what his brother does instead of medicine, or what happened to the kid attacked by the raccoon.
3 reviews
January 27, 2019

Though I'll never know which parts were extremely exaggerated or put in for comedic purposes, I liked this book's style.

The reviews below point out the manner in which he describes or talks about women or how this might sound like it's written for a "white male audience", but for me, his honesty and humor very much humanized him as a doctor.

Also, let's be honest; even if doctors and physicians are considered healers, are they not allowed to have lustful desires and to enjoy the occasional freedoms that many other humans also live for? I can see how certain things he said may be problematic, but if you're careful to take this from a comedic perspective mixed with a sense of realisticness, this book comes across more as funny than offensive.

At no point was I repulsed by his thoughts. I even let out a chuckle sometimes. I think if you let go of political correctness (which is important in the right circumstances, don't get me wrong), then the book can be enjoyed as it's meant to. Of course, if it came down to the truth and his view of people (mainly women) was really as superficial, my opinions will change. For now, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

There's a difference between problematic and brutal honesty, and I felt that the tone of the book at most leaned toward the latter.

I also liked the style of writing in that sometimes, Youn did not have to write much, but certain meaning can be implied or understood. Maybe because I grew up Asian American (though I'm not Korean) and can relate to some of the situations presented in the book, but just a mere few sentences resonated with me.

This book was a perfect mix of humor, honesty, and insight. I found it pleasurable to read and frankly, quite refreshing.

Maybe I'm just a bit tired of physicians and healthcare providers painting themselves as purely saints or morally superior, when the truth is that we can be humans with flaws while also harboring great talent and ambitions, and I felt that this book showcased that.

Also, while I do agree that there could have been more depth to this book, I'd probably have felt as if I were getting lectured by the author rather than reading this for leisure, which I felt was more of the goal of the book.
March 29, 2019
I selected In Stitches because it looked really interesting. Am pretty sure you know am so obsessed with Koreans. And the prologue was really interesting and was a relatible book to most people. The first time i saw it i predicted that this books was like a doctors books because the name and cover was obvious, it was actually like about someone's point of view about their life. This book is actually a good and a great book in my opinion. i was actually amazed at the authors experience about his life and how he actually became who he is really now. Because i didn't actually finish the story yet so am curious. this book reminded me of other books i read but this one is more educational , because most of the books i read are just something to waste my boring life. to be honest i actually was thinking of being a doctor or veterinarian, or a nurse but i changed my mind. i would read other books by this author because he is entertaining and i love when people's point of view cause it's more interesting it feels like your in it, and more understanding . In Stitches is a sometimes funny, sometimes painful, sometimes heartwarming relate of Dr. Youn��s experiences on the road to becoming a doctor. Anyway, I would recommend this book to people, the fact that this book is also laugh-out-loud is just Awesome.
Profile Image for Becca.
377 reviews44 followers
July 24, 2017
Dr. Youn recounts his own experience with a major jaw surgery and his own journey in med school to "discovering" plastic surgery.

I'm not much of a memoir person, but I found this book engaging and fun to read. Youn's sense of humour is lovely, and his quick mentions of his faith are certainly present, but not overbearing or out to teach some kind of moral - it's simply part of his life. I also love how he addresses the tensions of being a second generation (I think?) in his family and the varying cultural norms both in his work and at home.

My only critique was that I wish there was more about how his own journey with a bodily modification influenced his desire to become a plastic surgeon. But the book left me wanting to know more, (I thought it'd cover more than just med school, so I was surprised when I was at the end) but that's probably more of a sign of good writing.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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