May 07, 2013

Second Suns by David Oliver Relin

**This review is part of the Amazon Vine Program**

So, despite it being mentioned in this book that the work of the people in it has been featured on television programs and numerous articles, I'd never heard of any of them before this book. And that's really a shame, because what they are doing is so fantastic that it should be a constant topic of conversation everywhere. Hopefully, this book being published can change that.

The author, Relin, is a journalist who has worked on other books (most notably, Three Cups of Tea). In this one, he chronicles the work of Geoffrey Tabin and Sanduk Ruit, two doctors who have teamed together over the past couple of decades to restore sight to the numerous poor blind in the Himalayas, and then on to other countries. Their organization, Himalayan Cataract Project, was founded in 1995 and since then has reached out to Africa, India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, and so many other countries where these men have performed a simple but effective surgery to replace cataracts with a cheaply made clear lens and give back sight to so many people who wouldn't have had the chance otherwise. The book also goes over their early careers and lives and what drew them to this line of work.

The sad passing of Relin in November 2012 is made even more tragic by the amount of work he has placed into this book. Relin takes the backseat but I think even he failed to realize what a difference he made just in writing this book. Sure he wasn't the one performing the surgeries, but by showing the work of these two doctors he's probably gained them tons of support they need that they wouldn't have gotten otherwise. He's brought their cause to light and to a wide audience of people. And that is something admirable and wonderful. Tabin and Ruit, the two doctors featured in this book are also pretty spectacular people as well. While I didn't enjoy reading about Tabin as much as I did Ruit (Ruit's background and personality was more engaging to me) I recognize that they are both experts in their field and obviously filled with generous hearts and ambitions. The way they are presented in this book is very real (Ruit's temper and Tabin's bouncing around) and they aren't perfect by any means. But they're such good people you can forgive them their imperfections. And the people they surround themselves with are all pretty extraordinary as well.

The book is very well done. While I thought the pace could have been better at the beginning of the book, it really engages you in the middle and end and you keep reading to see how many more lives are changed by these doctors. The beginning was mostly about Tabin and his path to becoming a doctor, and seeing as how I'm not a climber, it didn't really resonate with me and hold my interest. In contrast, Ruit's meager roots and how he achieved his success was very inspiring and held my attention. And the work they did together was also just as interesting. For some readers, the descriptions of the eye surgery and occasional mentions of blood might be off-putting, but I think they just show what kind of conditions the doctors are working with and how well they do their jobs despite adversity.

This is definitely a book to read if you enjoy inspiring stories and people who are making a difference in the world. Truly, I hope to hear more and more about the work Tabin and Ruit are doing.

Second Suns
Copyright 2013
407 pages

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