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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Gourmet magazine columnist and roving foodie Jane Stern serves up a delightful account of how she transformed herself from "a raging former urban Jewish hypochondriac on the order of Woody Allen" into a functioning human being, by becoming an emergency medical technician (EMT) in her blue-collar Connecticut hometown.
A lifelong neurotic, Stern was blindsided at age 52 by crippling depression and phobias too numerous to count. Her epiphany occurred one day during a session with her beloved shrink, when she suddenly realized that the only times she was able to forget her excruciating fears were times when she was helping people. Immediately, she signed up to join her local ambulance squad and embarked on a rigorous course of training that would literally change her life.
In her wry and witty memoir, Stern regales us with unforgettable tales from the EMT trenches: stories of roller-coaster rides in the big rig, surreal encounters in the ER, and late-night stops at Dunkin' Donuts with the fellow volunteers who have become her surrogate family. She also describes how the death of a close friend sent her spiraling back into a depression that threatened to unravel her marriage of 32 years; and how the unspeakable tragedy of 9/11 irrevocably cast some much-needed perspective on her problems, real and imagined.
Hilarious, moving, and altogether engaging, Ambulance Girl tells the inspiring and life-affirming story of a fearful middle-aged woman who learned -- late in life, but not too late -- that the best way to help yourself is to help others. Anne Markowski