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Preview Reviews: Going Under by Sonia Henry

September 3, 2019

Our latest Preview title was Going Under – a darkly funny and sexy novel that blows the lid off the medical profession and life inside a hospital by a young doctor whose anonymous article about the pressures of trainee doctors went viral around the world. Take a look at our Preview Reviews:

Could not put ‘Going Under’ down. When I picked up the novel I was expecting lots of sex, drugs, alcohol and basically a trashy story. What I got was an eye opener to hospital life. I couldn’t believe the hurdles young interns go through to establish themselves in a profession that they want to help people in. And yes there was drugs, alcohol ….. but that wasn’t what carried the novel. It was Kitty’s pressures at the hospital and experiences of long hours, bullying, lack of supervision, low income etc. The story is told through the eyes of Kitty, Dr. Katerina Holliday, who is an intern surgeon at a major Sydney hospital. It also takes us to a rural town hospital that all interns need to do a placement in. The experiences she goes through keeps ‘Going Under’ an entertaining read. Next time I go to hospital I wouldn’t mind having her as my doctor or Dr. Price. Kitty’s relationships with Max, Estelle and The Godfather were interesting and I liked how they supported each other. At times you could predict what was going to happen next but most of the time I was wrong. This kept me reading. This usually just happens in a thriller, which this was not. ‘Going Under’ is an easy read about life experiences as an intern surgeon. I would recommend it to friends to read. This is one read many people would enjoy. – Maria, SA, 5 stars

Medical fiction has always held a fascination for me, so when I was given the opportunity to read this new novel by Sonia Henry I was thrilled. I quickly realised, however, that the book was based on real experiences that the author had encountered during her residency year of her medical training, and it was truly an eye-opener into what these incredibly intelligent and highly educated human beings have to go through in order to become the doctors that we take for granted. I know next time I go to the doctor I will be looking at her with a new admiration and appreciation. We go through the highs and the lows of daily life as “Kitty” rotates through the various terms and specialties of her residency year, we meet her friends, both medical and non-medical, and also the egos who she regularly encounters, and watch the dramas that fill her days. I read with incredulity some of the things that she and her colleagues suffered through as they completed their medical training. While life wasn’t always bad, it certainly wasn’t glamour all the time. Thank you for sharing these insights Sonia, it’s a great read which left me thinking. – Jane, NSW, 5 stars

A good and enjoyable read. Topical story about the challenges of junior doctors. I did get the feeling that the author wanted to put out several messages which meant there wasn’t always a natural story arc. Overall though, entertaining characters and a good debut. – Jen, NSW, 3 stars

The premise in Going Under was well presented, the suffering of the medical students made me feel utterly disgusted that this actually happens in real life. For me however, the weird humour and the sex just didn’t add to the story and just made me dislike the characters. I’m sure it will appeal to many other readers, however. – Hanadi, NSW, 3 stars

Well! How sick can the medical profession be? In GOING UNDER, Sonia Henry has certainly opened our eyes to what really goes on behind the scenes! Having never really spent any time in hospitals for illnesses (only childbirth), I suppose I’ve always imagined the staff to be intelligent, knowledgeable, dedicated people, working for the good of the patient above all else. I certainly never envisaged that these saintly workers could be prone to the same petty jealousies and back-stabbing meanness as other lowly mortals! It almost makes Grey’s Anatomy appear tame in comparison! I must say, I’m now going to do EVERYTHING I possibly can NOT to get sick – ever! The book is well-written. At first, I thought it wasn’t going anywhere and wondered if it would be a series of anecdotes and meetings with friends, between nightmare work scenarios. However, when “the situation” began to unfold, when the climax was reaching its point, I could not put it down! Very well done. – Yvonne, NSW, 4 stars

Going Under follows Dr. Katarina (Kitty) Holliday as she navigates her first year as doctor. Complete with sex, drugs and the high you can only get from an operating theatre, Kitty learns that there is so much more to being a doctor than medicine. This book reads like an episode of Grey’s Anatomy but with a distinct Australian flavour. Kitty is caught up in the salacious world of horrible bosses, life threatening mistakes and power struggles as she tries to do her job. It’s dark at times, giving us an insight into the often unseen world of hospital politics. People often romanticise doctors and their role – this book gives a glimpse into some of the things they might prefer the general public didn’t see. But overall Going Under is a story about friendship and survival. Kitty finds herself living her dream of being a doctor only to realize that it isn’t as glamourous as she may have once thought. It’s real, raw and definitely makes you think twice about tv medical dramas. – Kate, QLD, 5 stars

Going Under delves into the lives of junior doctors. It follows Dr. Kitty Holliday and her fellow interns as they complete their training in a Sydney hospital. They are young, intelligent and not so well behaved. They not only have to deal with life and death situations but their bullying senior peers too. I found this book quite light hearted and easy to read despite the serious subject matter but also found it a tad shallow in parts. I think this book has broad appeal and would be a good choice for book clubs. – Rebecca, NSW, 3 stars

Once I picked up this book I struggled to put it down. It kept me interested from start to finish. The book centres around a group of three newly trained doctors taking up their first posts in a busy hospital. It highlights the long hours, intense pressure and sometimes bullying that is endured by the group. The book while being serious also has a humorous element to it and had me laughing in many places. It had me thinking about how much of the story is truth about the real world of trainee Doctors (I’m suspecting a lot was based on real life) It has certainly given me a new perspective on the medical profession. What I loved about the book was it had so many variants to its theme. There was seriousness, tense moments, romance, adversity, and humour in just the right places. The central character Katarina was hugely likeable. A smart girl with compassion and empathy and a willingness to just survive her first year in the medical profession. Her resilience and strength were outstanding. I would definitely recommend this book and I think it will appeal to a broad range of readers. I would be excited to read another book from this author in the future. – Jude, SA, 5 stars

Wow. What an eye-opener. I went into Going Under knowing the author’s background and what I found really unnerved and horrified me. This novel really brought to light the extreme pressures junior doctors and medical professionals have to endure in their medical training in such a bureaucratic, pressure-cooker environment. Whilst this novel is a work of fiction, it is based on Dr Sonia Henry’s real-life experiences and furthers the issues she raised in her anonymous article that went viral in 2017, delivering the stark message that “there is something rotten inside the medical profession”. Through Dr Katarina “Kitty” Holliday’s perspective, we get an insight into a young doctor’s gruelling first year of training in a Sydney hospital – the long hours, underpay, personal issues, bullying, harassment, politics, self-doubt, lack of support, self-medication, and ultimately what could happen when they are pushed over the edge or ‘go under’. On top of all this, there is the added heavy responsibility of trying to keep their patients alive! “Doctors worry constantly about patients surviving. We fear death and suffering and blame. Our own survival seems unimportant by comparison. The doctor saves the baby, or doesn’t. Who saves the doctor?” This though-provoking novel, with it’s dark subject matter, is so well-written with wit, humour, emotion and empathy. Sonia Henry successfully enlightens us about the serious problems in the public health system while at the same time delivering an entertaining and engrossing story about a wonderful cast of relatable characters and their escapades. I highly recommend this novel, it is compelling reading and provides valuable insight into a fascinating profession. I’ve always valued the work that medical professionals do day in and day out but I have a newfound appreciation and understanding of what they may had to to endure to reach their goals. Is this how we really want to nurture and treat the very doctors who sacrifice so much in their commitment to keeping us all alive? I really hope changes are made in the medical training program and the culture within our hospitals. Thank you to Better Reading Preview and Allen & Unwin for providing an advanced copy for review. – Maridel, NSW, 5 stars

Fantastic read. I couldn’t put it down! A great insight into the world of junior doctors and what they have to endure. Sonia Henry has done a great job of luring in the reader and I highly recommend this book – Susan, NSW, 5

I was very excited to be chosen to review this book so was keen to get started. To my great disappointment I found it extremely hard to get into and I was also really put off by the (to me) seemingly excessive alcohol and drug use that these characters seemed to participate in. I found that I was not really concerned as to what happened to each character and I ended up not finishing the book. Other readers may find it easy enough to read but to me, there seemed to be no substance to the characters. – Conor, VIC, 1 star

Going Under was like a little guilty pleasure. I thoroughly enjoyed it from cover to cover. It was like diving into an episode of Greys Anatomy mixed with Kings Cross ER. Sonia Henry has written a clever novel that highlights the pressures faced by doctors in Australia – pressures so shocking that when written as a piece of fiction, provide a perfect source of entertainment yet also open our eyes as readers to the injustices our medical professionals face daily. Kitty is a young doctor trying to get through her first year at a training hospital in Sydney. She is trying to juggle relationships, work and life in general whilst dealing with the added stresses of workplace bullying, secrets and scandal. This book was everything it promised and more. It had me cringe, laugh and “almost” cry the whole way through. I wished I could have put life on hold so I could indulge myself in it cover to cover. Thank you Better Reading Preview for my copy for an honest review. – Hannah, NT, 4 stars

Going Under is a fascinating insight into the life of a doctor, Sonia Henry’s first novel focusses on Katarina (Kitty) Holliday, a first year junior doctor at a Sydney hospital and covers her experiences within various hospital rotations (neuro surgery, emergency), a rotation to a country hospital, night shifts and life outside of the hospital. What makes this novel even more compelling is that it is based on factual experiences and knowing the background of the author (Sonia is a doctor, who was a whistleblower, helping to shine a light on the treatment of doctors and suicide amongst doctors) kept the story even more engaging. – Emma, VIC, 4 stars

This book is absolutely fantastic. A real look inside the lives of doctors and what they go through. The characters were engaging and I felt the emotions, felt their ups and downs. Definitely a book that everyone should read. – Kirstie, WA, 4 stars

I won a copy of the book through Better Reading. This was a real eye opener into the life of a junior doctor. It also makes me question whether I would visit an emergency room ever again. A good read, however life as a doctor is not as appealing as you think it might be growing up. – Cassandra, NSW, 3 stars

Going Under follows medical intern, Dr Kitty Holliday through the many lows and occasional highs of her first year at a training hospital in Sydney. Simply put, the story is compelling, eye opening and brilliantly written.- Jessie, VIC, 5 stars

Going Under is an honest look into the world of doctors that questions your preconceptions of the industry. It is factual and technical, but not in a polarising way. Instead you put the book down having learnt something from the medical field. It’s a refreshing change from the romanticised likes of Greys Anatomy. The only part that didn’t fit was Kitty’s sudden overuse of the word ‘mate’ halfway through the book. It didn’t feel likely that Kitty wouldn’t know that the Eftpos card was to use cocaine, and therefore the Eftpos machine joke didn’t work. Overall great book to bring awareness about the ingrained issues in the medical field to the general public as an interesting and pleasurable read. – Kellie, VIC, 4 stars

Going Under by Sonia Henry is a fantastic book! Reading it felt like spending time with an old friend. You can’t help but like Kitty, I laughed and cringed and cried with her, and I didn’t want to the book to end. I look forward to reading it again and I would love to read more of Sonia Henry’s work. – Cassandra, QLD, 5 stars

Sonia Henry’s novel “Going Under” is a fictional story following Dr Katarina Holliday, aka Kitty, in her first year as a trainee doctor in a Sydney hospital. While this is a work of fiction, Henry has used her own personal experience as the basis for this story. It gave me a horrifying glimpse into hospital life and the lack of support for our doctors. I hadn’t considered before how difficult it must be to work with the intense pressure of knowing that a mistake could kill someone or the toll on the mental health of our doctors. The book is a really quick and though provoking read. “I’m barely keeping my head above water, and to deal with this on top of it is bringing me to breaking point!” Kitty tries to explain why she can’t rock the boat and her friend who isn’t a doctor just can’t understand. I really hope that next time I am in the hospital I can be more patient and understanding when my doctor is late or brusque. Henry’s novel has really opened my eyes to the way our hospitals are damaging our doctors – the people we depend on when we need help. – Karen, ACT, 4 stars

Fantastic, absorbing read. Gave a great insight into the everday trials and tribulations of the medical profession. A snapshot of their feelings and of their interactions with each other and the general public. Loved hearing about the daily grind of the medical profession and was left wanting more. – Kym, VIC, 5 stars

Take a deep breath and plunge into the unexpected world of a new intern – a junior doctor. Set in a large Sydney hospital we folow the journey of discovery as Dr Kitty Holliday is thrown into the deep end to discover the truth of working at the bottom end of the medical system. Sonia Henry brings her real life experiences to the story. It’s a fast paced ride through a nightmare of shift work, long hours and unrelenting pressure. We are hanging on to watch Dr Kitty as she finds that politics and the pecking order create a not-so level playing field. She might be there to save lives and help those in need but at times she wonders if this is the motivation for her senior colleagues.It’s a fast paced, wild ride filled with real characters. Whether you’re in the medical profession or not, we can all relate to Kitty’s friends and enemies. Along with the hilarious exploits of recovery time after shifts, we begin to understand the dark underbelly of working under such intense pressure. Going Under is a real page-turner, a careful balance of highs and lows. An entertaining and thought-provoking read. – Chris, QLD, 4 stars

What a fantastic insight into the world of a trainee doctor! The book really highlighted the pressures of being in the medical profession. I absolutely loved reading about what Kitty and her flat mates were going through in their first year – the ups and the downs. I read this on my daily train commute and really didn’t want to get to my stop as I wanted to keep reading! – Natalie, NSW, 5 stars

Sonia Henry’s ‘Going Under’ is a scary read. Based on the experiences of the author and people she knows in their first hospital placements after graduating from medical school, she exposes the pressure that these high achievers are put under. There are many incidents of bullying and hospital politics which lead to the young doctors struggling with mental health issues, often self medicating to manage. The pressure is intense – from more senior doctors, hospital administration and patients. Early in the book, one character asks, ‘How do you cope?’ and gets the unexpected response from an experienced doctor – ‘You just don’t’. Henry invokes the claustrophobic world of the teaching hospital and the chaos of a share house very successfully. – Penny, VIC, 4 stars

I would totally recommend reading the novel Going Under. I loved the way it allows the reader to get an insight into the medical profession and the struggles they go through to achieve the best outcome in all situations. Sonia Henry is a fabulous writer who has given what I believe is an honest account of what is in the life of a doctor. We can all relate to the wonder of whether we have chosen the correct career path no matter what field it is. Doctors to deserve a medal for what they see and do however, we should all be treated with respect whether we are in a position of power or not. I would love to read more on the life and times of Sophie Henry. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read this book. Thank you Better Reading. – Therese, NSW, 5 stars

Dr. Sonia Henry gives us a hard, honest look at life as a young doctor. Brutally graphic at times about surgery and the indifference of some senior doctors to patients sufferring, it is confronting and shocking. It is also very interesting and insightful, highlighting just how much courage and strength it takes to be a doctor, to cope with the day to day struggles and the big life and death decisions they face. A great story told with realism and heart, it’s gritty and in-your-face. Unputdownable!! – Kristy, NSW. 5 stars

“Going Under” by Sonia Henry is a thoughtful, humorous, sad but also hopeful novel about what it’s like for a junior doctor. The book tells the story of Dr Kitty Halliday and two of her best friends as first year doctors in a Sydney hospital. The situations that Kitty and her friends are faced with is at times shocking and horrifying. In amongst the stress, anxiety and sadness, Kitty also manages to have some fun and it’s the true friendships she has that enable her to get through some difficult experiences. This is a work of fiction, however the author notes it has been inspired by real events. I didn’t realise the amount of pressure, harassment, stress and bullying that new doctors are faced with and it highlights the medical profession needs to undergo some serious changes to support our doctors. I really enjoyed this book and struggled to put it down. It’s well written and I really connected with Kitty and her friends. I highly recommend reading, five stars. Thank you for the opportunity to read and review. – Rosie, NSW, 5 stars

Who saves the doctor?! A real and somewhat disturbing reminder to us that life as a doctor isn’t all that we grow up dreaming about. Sonia Henry has done a truly magnificent job of writing a page turning book from start to finish. ‘Going Under’ details Kitty Holliday’s first year as a junior doctor in a major Sydney hospital. Inspired by the authors real life experiences working in the medical profession, she has managed to perform the task of enlightening us non-doctors of what is a serious problem in our hospitals while at the same time providing a light, often funny journey of Kitty and her experiences. Kitty’s vision of what life as a doctor really is comes crashing down from day one. The long hours, low pay, lack of proper supervision. hierarchy of power, bullying and the list goes on, is a tough pill to swallow. Her strong support network keeps her going however this isn’t something that all the young doctors have to cling onto in these early and difficult years. I highly recommend this novel, not only for the enjoyable read that it is but also for the insight that it provides into a profession most of us are completely oblivious and removed from. – Trina, NSW, 5 stars

Thanks Better Reading for my Preview copy of Going Under. Great read. – Lee-Anne, VIC, 3 stars

My favourite line from the book is “The reason why doctors have such messy handwriting suddenly becomes crystal clear.” Similar to Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt, Henry’s account of being a junior doctor is both horrifying and funny (sort of). You don’t know whether to laugh or cringe. One can only hope that books like these bring about change in the system. – Janelle, NSW, 3 stars

“Going Under” by Sonia Henry is an eye opener. It reveals the toxic work environment in hospitals including alcoholism, drug taking and unacceptable levels of misogyny and bullying. It was shocking in some parts. Although the book highlights serious issues it does it in an amusing and readable fashion. The storyline was easy to follow and the characters believable. I felt sorry for some of the young doctors. My take away is avoid going to hospital if possible. My favourite quote “A routine operation can kill you, but friendship is forever. Ashes, dust, and beer.” I learned a lot from this book and enjoyed reading it. – Sandra, ACT, 4 stars

Dr Katarina ‘Kitty’ Holliday is a first year intern at a major hospital trying to keep her head above water but feeling like she is being eaten alive by the registrars, specialists and nurses. A nine week stint in a rural Australian hospital know as ‘the killing fields’ opens her eyes even more to what life as a doctor entails. The parties, the sex, the drugs (did I mention the drugs!) and the political infighting and superiority of ‘who is who’ in the hierarchy of the hospital is mind blowing. I really enjoyed ‘Going Under’ – it was an insightful if not a ‘nightmare’ of how an intern survives running the gauntlet of their first year as a doctor. Death, mental health, wellbeing and identity of self are major themes throughout the book. I’ll never look at hospital staff the same way again. – Karyn, ACT, 4 stars

A total eye-opener, Going Under brings to light the pressures junior doctors have to endure. It’s the story of young intern Dr Kitty Holliday, and her journey through her first year in a training hospital in Sydney. The scary truth is a lot of the novel is based on fact, the bullying, belittling and even the suicide of young doctors. Added to the pressure cooker of surgery, long hours and lack of suitable supervision, the doctor training program is a recipe for disaster. However Sonia Henry tells the story well, a dark subject told with a jocular tone. I found myself laughing out loud several times at the antics of Kitty and her friends. It is an amusing, light-hearted read, but still, it sends a message to the reader that all is not as it should be in our hospitals. This is a book everyone needs to read. – Kylie, QLD, 4 stars

Going Under is a very apt title for this novel. Knowing the author’s background, for me, gave this novel a very different perspective, to my normal approach. The trials and tribulations of what our young doctors endure on every level is, eye opening, to say the least. The journey of Dr. Katarina Holliday is certainly intense, sprinkled with humour and spirals through human emotions with a vengeance. Although written as a novel and drawn from real life events, I couldn’t help but engage with Dr. Katarina and empathise with her in agonising decisions, sharing her good times and cheer her on, every step of the way. I highly recommend this novel as an insight into a world that many of us never have the opportunity to experience. – Leanne, VIC, 4 stars

What an interesting, stomach-wrenching book. Although a work of fiction, this is obviously written from the heart, drawing on real life experiences and feelings. I found the subject disturbing on many levels and kept asking myself ‘Why does it have to be this way” and who would want to follow this path if this is “normal” . I would have liked to have read more about each character and how they dealt with their experiences and less about the sex drugs and booze as I felt this lessened each of them as a person, especially Kitty. I was disappointed with her behaviour and attitude and felt she owed herself so much more. I will never look at this profession in the same light again. It would be nice to think a book like this may change a terrible situation for real life hard working caring people wanting to follow a dream with such a responsibility that they need to be nurtured by those who have been there before them not treated so badly that it was hard to take in the words off the page. Well worth reading. – Debra, VIC, 4 stars

I really enjoyed reading Sonia Henry’s novel, ‘Going Under’. It had me from page one. The experiences which the trainee doctors in this novel go through, I feel are not far off the truth of our medical world. The bullying and intimidation they suffer, is reflective of most work places. It was an eye opener, and very enjoyable. – Rebecca, TAS, 5 stars

In a Wonderland they Lie, Dreaming as the days go by, Dreaming as the summers die: Ever drifting down the stream- Lingering in the golden gleam- Life, what is it but a dream?’ This book is about the dreams of doctors, they want to make those who are sick better, make them live again but they must first navigate a path that is not always pleasant. I think this novel told a great story, a somewhat true account of what really happens in the world of medicine (and to some extent in so many workplaces), the trials and tribulations of trying to get to where you want to be in the future, having a passion for something but on the other hand not knowing if you really want to go there. I loved Dr Katarina Holliday and I loved her story. And to know that the author Sonia Henry has been in similar situations makes it all that much more real. Life, what is it but a dream? – Donna, TAS, 4 stars

With dry wit and humour, Dr Sonia Henry guides the reader through her protagonist’s first twelve months as a junior doctor. While it’s clearly fiction, from Henry’s background it’s equally clear that it is drawn from real life, and based in fact. No one who has worked in the public health system is likely to be shocked or surprised at what Henry reveals; worried, dismayed, disgusted and disappointed, perhaps, but not surprised. This book should be compulsory reading for medical administrators in the hospital system, but also for medical students, doctors at all levels of their career, and anyone who cannot guarantee they (or someone they care about) will never find themselves in a hospital at 2am under the care of an overworked, underpaid, stressed-out, exhausted intern doctor. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Better Reading Preview and Allen&Unwin – Marianne, NSW, 5 stars

Dr. Katarina (Kitty) could have been any one of us who have or are considering entering medical school to become a doctor in Australia. This is part of her journey and those of her mates and bosses. This book by Dr Sonia Henry is timely, with the recent investigations in the mental health concerns and suicide rate of doctors and trainees in Australia. The rumours and stories heard over the years of the bullying and belittling behaviour almost expected and accepted as a rite of passage for interns as they pass through the medical ranks. The ‘great white coats’ syndrome – what they say or do must not be questioned; the antithesis to life-long learning and the development of critical thinking skills. This is a great debut novel, leaving the reader wondering what’s coming next after each chapter. In places it is laugh-out-loud funny or sad and thought provoking and at times disturbing. The level of alcohol consumption and self-medicating seems outlandish, however, it’s conceded I do not live in this environment and cannot make a comparison. It also highlights the importance of Australian mateship. Thank you to Better Reading and Allen & Unwin for this ARC. – Merilyn, WA, 4 stars

What a story! I laughed and I cried. I even had to stop reading a few times to compose myself, dry my tears and hug whoever of my family was available. I enjoyed this book, but it did disturb me, knowing it is based on real experiences. It opened my eyes to an issue of which I was not aware. I recommend this to other readers due to its thought provoking insights into the tough world of the medical profession. Doctors are there for us, but who is there for them? A thoroughly enjoyable read, but keep the tissues, and perhaps a hugging buddy, handy. – Alice, NSW, 4 stars

Going Under is an addictive read. Equal parts humour, love, despair and horror. I loved it! Dr. Katarina Holliday is an engaging character. I love her lust for life and the way she keeps going even when she makes mistakes. She is strong and focussed, eager to pursue a career in Surgery. In her first year as an Intern she faces the ingrained internal hospital system of bullying, harassment and long hours. Without the love and support of her friends she would definitely have gone under. Going Under gives a horrifying insight into the hierarchy of hospitals and the terrible conditions in which doctors are expected to work. It also shows the flip side, with encouragement and kindness people flourish, so what makes a hospital choose harassment over encouragement? I have no answer. I recommend you read the book. – Daniella, QLD, 5 stars

Sonia Henry’s debut novel Going Under, is darkly funny, sad and inspiring. It takes us into the brutal world of medical doctors post-graduate supervision. The story follows the Dr Kitty Holliday who, having recently graduated as a doctor of medicine, and began work at one of Sydney’s ‘best’ teaching hospitals, expecting this to be the beginning of her dreams. But things were not as Kitty dreamed. Between trying to survive working on the ward, in the operating theatre and in the emergency department without killing any of her patients, She finds herself questioning all she had believed the future held for her, or indeed other doctors. As a health profession, this novel hit home and is a great conversation starter about power struggles, bureaucracies and sexual harassment in medicine – Mara, NSW, 3 stars

“Going Under” is an interesting novel. While reading it I often felt that I was reading a memoir rather than a novel – something about the tone, and the cautious approach to characters, caused it to come across this way. In the afterword, the author notes that every event described had actually happened. Drawing from her own experience so strongly may have been a mistake; while it adds veracity, it has also flattened the novel in some ways. If you’ve ever had a bad experience in an Australian hospital, you’ll find the callous disregard for patient welfare exhibited by senior doctors chillingly familiar. Unfortunately, the characterisation of Kitty’s friends and lovers is weak; we’re given only surface insights into them. None come to life or feel real. Despite this significant weakness, “Going Under” is very readable. It’s written in a light and easy style, and the lack of depth means it doesn’t demand too much of a reader. I was interested in it rather than enthralled, but found it quite enjoyable. The insight into the Australian medical system alone makes it worth reading. – Lorraine, ACT, 3 stars

Many years ago I was offered a scholarship to study medicine and although I chose a difference career path, I occasionally wondered what my alternate life might have been like, had I gone ahead in the medical field. Now I have a good idea. Reading Sonia Henry’s Going Under did not make me regret not going down that path. I loved the book. It is well written, funny and compelling – where I was expecting a bit of chic lit. I found myself enveloped in the politics that have caused well-documented grief for so many newly graduated doctors. I was particularly impressed with the comparison to the Scandinavian system of training, and I ask myself why we have gone down the road of huge egos, bullying and lack of compassion. This is a good read – it gives food for thought, and a cause for someone looking to reform an area in need of change. Read it. You will not regret it. – Nell, NSW, 5 stars

Going Under by Sonia Henry was much more than I expected, not having read any reviews. I expected a funny, romantic romp, set in a hospital. What I got was a story of sex, death and doctors, but rather than just funny, this novel has a dark side. It tells of a group of first year out graduates, assigned to a large teaching hospital, and details their social and work challenges as they struggle to survive that first year. I have to say that I was fully prepared to skim quickly through this lighthearted book but instead I found myself riveted to this group of doctors, eagerly awaiting their outcomes. I also found myself comparing the bullying they experienced, to the bullying of teachers by teachers and parents, that I have seen seen in schools. Perhaps a teacher’s version will be the next book. Highly recommended. – Leisl, NSW, 5 stars

Thank you for allowing me to review this book, it was a real eye opener and a very interesting and intriguing read and it did have me engrossed pretty much all the way through. I liked the author’s style of writing, I thought the story flowed along nicely, and the characters were quite captivating both with their heroic and flawed traits. I did feel that the doctors and nurses have a similar lifestyle to that of music artists etc in terms of how they cope through sex, booze, drugs in a high pressured industry with high expectations required of them, although it did strike me as rather hypocritical the doctors that are there saving patients from overdoses whilst they are getting high as a kite on drugs themselves, not to mention having affairs with other doctors, surgeons etc who are married with complete disregard and disrespect, they are certainly not upstanding citizens on the whole. On another note, I could understand however how important and crucial a strong support network is when working in the medical industry and this was made evident in the book. Overall this is a book that I would strongly recommend and gives a very good insight into the medical world. – Danielle, VIC, 3 stars

Going Under captures, with disturbing accuracy, the trials and tribulations that idealistic medical school graduates must face in their first year as interns. Anyone who has worked in the medical system will identify with much of this story – whilst often faced with life-or-death situations, the new interns must struggle with the hierarchy, with unhelpful mentors and supervisors, with lack of guidance, all while wanting to offer the best of care to people who do not always want their help. When added to draconian expectation and rosters, it is no wonder these interns turn to alcohol, sex and gallows humour to relieve this overwhelming tension. However, it is, in my opinion, the alcohol, sex and gallows humour sections that let this book down. I’m not saying here that they should not have been included, because the psychological effects of living in such an environment is definitely important – rather that the writing itself felt superficial here, with little depth, unlike the medical sections, which rang true. Nevertheless, Going Under is an interesting debut novel about young interns who struggle against the odds. Not all survive, but those that do come out, in the end, better human beings. Thank you to Better Reading and A&U for this ARC. – Dominique, SA, 3 stars

Quite simply a fabulous read! The main character was a flawed and funny woman who was easy to relate to. This novel tackles the dark side of medicine for new doctors, while still providing plenty of laughs. A thoroughly enjoyable read. – Kelly, QLD, 5 stars

Raw and fresh insight into the medical world. I could not put Going Under down. I felt like I was in medical school and was living in their world of pain and love. I cried and laughed. Every visit to hospital now, I will see all the staff in a new and intriguing way. Loved it. – Anne, NSW, 5 stars

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book but I’ve been seriously impressed! I found myself totally immersed in the life of Dr Katarina Holliday. As a protagonist, I found her really relatable, from her exhaustion, frustration, mistakes and reflections about her work. Although fictionalised, this book really provides you with a shocking insight into the gruelling world of medicine and some of the struggles our heroic doctors have to endure on a daily basis. I read this in a few short days and found it very much ‘unputdownable.’ – Meg, VIC, 5 stars

Katarina (Kitty) Holliday is an intern surgeon who experiencing how hard the hierarchy system in hospitals can be, especially as an intern at the bottom of the food chain. This book is a work of fiction but based on the author’s real experiences during her first year as a trainee doctor. It’s an easy relaxing read, hillarious, but also touching and shocking. It amazes me what can happen inside the hospital system for you to achieve your dream as a surgeon. The author wrapped the ending up beautifully. Thanks to Better Reading for providing me with an advance copy of this book. It certainly exceeds my expectation and I do not hesitate to give five stars for this book. I hope there’ll be a meet the author event to meet Sonia Henry in person. – Vivi, NSW, 5 stars

It’s a great book. Wherever there is prestige and people there is bureaucracies and bullies. It’s obviously a novel but inspired by real events. It’s such a scary world full of overwhelm, anxiety and stress. I don’t think I’ll ever look at a hospital the same way again. Just from reading this novel I know there needs to be an urgent national conversation regarding medical culture. But I don’t think it needed the sex or cheap vulgar innuendo. It’s a big enough story without making it a fun one. – Anna, NSW, 4 stars

Katarina Holliday is a trainee medical doctor trying to survive the rigours of very long hours, harassment, and general rudeness in her chosen profession. It is a disturbing account of trying to be accepted, trying to do the right thing and doing the best she can when dealing with patients, their families, death and colleagues. It is a demanding profession made more difficult by human frailties that causes people to either turn on each other or in the best case scenario, bond. Fortunately Katarina had some friends she could turn to in times of need. Unfortunately too often, in the difficult times, too much indulgence in drinking, drug taking and general living badly, can cause more problems than it solves for Katarina. Hopefully the light cast on the problems facing these people will improve the quality of care and their own quality of life. – Gloria, SA, 3 stars

What a page turner from page one to the very last. Kept me engrossed all the way through, and as I was reading I felt as if I was one of the characters experiencing all the drama with them. Would highly recommend this to anyone who likes a good dramatic read. The main character was a great strong point throughout. Loved the read, would read again. – Beth, TAS, 5 stars

A thought provoking book, exploring bullying, sexual harassment, and registrars and senior staff thinking and behaving like they are above all others. A real eye opener into the immense pressure these young trainee doctors are under, throughly enjoyed reading – Deborah, NSW, 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. Such a great insight into the medical world. A real page turner! Would recommend! – Amy, VIC, 4 stars

What an intriguing novel! There have been many novels published about the treatment of junior doctors, but not any from an Australian writer. Sonia Henry weaves powerful themes of death, passion, sex and morality into this intriguing novel. The narrative makes you feel like you are not reading a book but hearing about a close friend’s struggles as an intern whilst having a few wines in the local pub. Right to the last page, the many twists and turns that the novel took, kept me wanting to know more. I fell in love with Kitty and her struggle between what she wanted in life and what she thought she wanted. I hope this novels starts the important conversation about the treatment of junior doctors in hospitals nationwide. A fantastic read! – Katarzyna, VIC, 5 stars

I think we’ve all wanted to be a nurse or a doctor at some point in our lives. I had the little nurse outfit as a child – I think I played the doctor too, at times. I know I’m not smart enough to be a doctor though…and I don’t think my caring nature (however abundant) would quite get me over the line. Going Under was an incredible insight into the medical world. It was by turns hilarious and devastating. The characters were really well-developed and I sometimes forgot that that I wasn’t reading a autobiography, even though it is presented as fiction. I think the author’s experiences gave the story a depth that might not have existed, had she not had them. I enjoyed the novel immensely, but knowing so much of what happened in the book takes place in real life gives me pause. I hope that, if anything, this book goes further to enlighten people on how incredibly difficult being in the medical field can be – and, perhaps, acts as a further catalyst for change. Because when I was a little girl, playing an being a doctor or nurse…I can’t imagine growing up and learning the truth of that world. – Emma, VIC, 5 stars

When I received Going Under, by Sonia Henry, I was intrigued by the description of it as “a novel of sex, death and doctors”. I was unsure what to expect and whether the novel would hold much appeal for me. I was drawn in, however, by learning that the author had written an anonymous article about the plight of junior doctors back in 2017, an article that subsequently went viral, and that the novel was based on her personal knowledge of the medical field. Going Under follows the year-long journey of the fictional Dr Katarina (Kitty) Holliday, as she and her friends attempt to navigate life in the cut-throat hospital system. The novel is far from the shallow, salacious depiction that I had feared and reading it was an eye-opening and powerful experience. While the novel certainly contains its fair share of sex and death, at its heart it is an exploration of humanity and the impact that brutal and unrelenting expectations within an artificial environment can have on individuals. I am grateful for the opportunity to have read this novel and hopeful that there will be a day when it is no longer representative of an unfortunate reality. – Alison, QLD, 4 stars

 

 


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