Don Worth, a psychologist, presents a collection of real-life accounts of perseverance through the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on finding and cultivating inner strength in times of upheaval and worry.
Worth selects the book’s contributors to represent different walks of life and different experiences of the pandemic. In a section titled “Lost Loved Ones,” retiree Jessie Meisling shares her grief over her father’s death during that time—and her pain over not being around him for the end, thanks to her own quarantine. In “Covid-19 Survivors,” both a middle-aged woman and a teenage boy recount getting and recovering from COVID-19.
Other sections cover different ways of being of service during a public health crisis. For “Educators,” Mumbai-based media professors Anjali Monteiro and K.P. Jayasankar analyze how their style of instruction shifted by necessity, stressing the problem of students lacking consistent Internet access.
Meanwhile, West Virginia high school teacher Morgan Gulley emphasizes her concern for student mental health. “Clergy” presents readers with inspirational thoughts informed by different faiths. A section on “Physicians” offers thoughts on how a society-wide emergency could inspire different approaches to healthcare. For his own offerings, Worth uses the pandemic as an object lesson in the importance of remaining prepared for sudden change.
If there’s a downside to his and his contributors’ philosophizing, it’s that much of the book remains at the level of the unsurprising and general. Many essays lack vivid specifics to bring the work alive, as does journalist Nabina Das’ homage to the “autorickshaw” drivers who kept working as the rest of her city of Hyderabad, India, sequestered indoors. Goa restaurateur Margarida Tavore e Costa strikes a refreshingly candid note when she writes about her disappointment with longtime employees who wouldn’t come back to work once lockdown eased, forcing her business to close.
Overall, this is an uneven offering. Mental-health professionals like Worth should find the most value in its open-hearted attempt to find good amid the COVID-19 tragedy.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.