Crossings Jon Kerstetter
Crossings is the story of Dr. Jon Kerstetter, a Native American who in middle age fulfilled his dreams to become an army physician and flight surgeon, then lost his medical and military careers after a massive stroke left him unable to read or write and struggling to rehabilitate his way to some kind of normalcy back home. He began writing as a therapeutic exercise; the first piece he submitted for publication appeared in The Best American Essays (2013 edition, selected and introduced by Cheryl Strayed).
Jon’s professional experience included practice in disaster response and refugee medical care camps in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Kosovo, where he was the in-country director and professor of the Johns Hopkins University training program in emergency medicine. But in Iraq, where Jon served three tours, he was injured and forced to return home for orthopedic surgery and treatment. Before he could redeploy, doctors recommended he undergo the neurosurgical procedure that caused his stroke.
In Jon’s beautifully written memoir, he weaves gripping accounts of his combat experiences with thought-provoking analysis and introspection. He details the workings of his clinical mind—how his roles as doctor and soldier clash, and how he struggles to overcome the moral challenges of transforming from doctor into soldier, soldier into doctor. He reveals that a doctor who becomes a soldier can cross to the dark side of war, where healing may take second place to soldiering, and war is rendered as it really is: destructive to the soul. Later, we witness his own excruciating recovery, present in the damaged mind of an educated man who now struggles to read and write without the capacity to think in logical sequences.
Through it all, Jon paints a fascinating portrait of a mind at war and illuminates what it means to be a soldier, a doctor, and an American touched by brain injury.
To be published by Crown in 2017.