Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Book Review: Sue Barton Visiting Nurse by Helen Dore Boylston (Sue Barton #3)

As a Visiting Nurse in New York City, Sue moves into a supposedly haunted house with Kit, meets "ghost" Marianna and a variety of needy patients, attends Connie's wedding, and breaks her engagement to Bill.

My Review:
Sue and Kit are both excited to be accepted at the famous Henry Street Nursing Service in New York, where they will become Visiting nurses.. Their joy is tinged with sadness that Connie will not be with them, as she gives up nursing to prepare for her wedding to Phil. Add in that they are staying in a haunted house and things are not going to be dull.

This book was a complete departure from the other books in the series. The girls are working as visiting nurses, going out into New York to make home visits to those in need of medical help and guidance. They are responsible for teaching families how to care for sick relatives, teaching them health and hygiene, getting them financial aid and employment, and helping them with social problems. I would say that Sue's job was that of nurse and social worker rolled into one. It was quite fascinating to see what this kind of nursing involves and I imagine that there would be a lot of satisfaction involved in helping these people and solving their problems.

The book gets even more interesting when Sue gets her own placement to work in Harlem. I liked that we were seeing a new side of Harlem instead of just the scare stories about it being a bad place for white people. In this book, Harlem welcomes Sue with open arms and she loves working there and making a difference. The people are warm and friendly and I really enjoyed this part of the book.

There were a few niggles for me. Bill was being a bit of an ass, indicating that Sue's work was not very important and that she should give it up and move to New Hampshire with him. He totally disregards her feelings and does not treat her well, which puts her into stubborn mode. I understand that he doesn't want to wait forever to marry her, and it was unreasonable to be asked to wait another two years, but sulking and demanding does not work with Sue and their whole relationship is in jeopardy.

I didn't like the fact that Connie has just given up nursing to get married. It basically proves that the other students in book one were right about the rich girl taking up nursing to pass the time or amuse herself, and not being interested in it as a career. Connie fought for two books to prove everyone wrong and then just quits, proving they had her pegged right. I felt it was a betrayal of the determined girl we met as a student.

The other thing I didn't like was the arrival of Marianna. I don't like the way Kit and Sue took her on as a pet project. Giving her a place to stay was one thing, but trying to force her to go to night school to finish her education, changing the way she speaks to be more 'normal' and picking out a more acceptable job for her just smacks of changing the girl to be a clone of themselves. Next thing, they are encouraging her to become a nurse. I didn't like this at all. I also didn't much like the personality of Marianna and she was a poor substitute for Connie or even Hilda.

However I did enjoy the book overall. It was nice to see a totally different nursing environment, and Sue blossoms as she helps people. It was a perfect setting for her to express herself and become part of a community, good experience for her plans to work with Bill in New Hampshire. Despite the niggles I had here, none were enough to spoil the book for me and I look forward to the rest of the series.
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