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Something to Prove: A Daughter's Journey to Fulfill a Father's Legacy

Something to Prove: A Daughter's Journey to Fulfill a Father's Legacy

4.6 5
by Yvonne S Thornton, Anita Bartholomew (With)

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"I was my father's daughter. I was living his dream-and on the path to realizing my own. I wasn't going to let small, closed minds slam the door against me. I planned to rise as high in my profession as my skills and hard work would allow. I was a black woman but that wasn't going to stop me from striving to be the best doctor it was possible to be."

Dr. Yvonne


"I was my father's daughter. I was living his dream-and on the path to realizing my own. I wasn't going to let small, closed minds slam the door against me. I planned to rise as high in my profession as my skills and hard work would allow. I was a black woman but that wasn't going to stop me from striving to be the best doctor it was possible to be."

Dr. Yvonne Thornton, author of the heartwarming memoir The Ditchdigger's Daughters (which has been translated into 19 languages and adapted into an award-winning movie), knows what it's like to overcome steep odds. Born into a family with great ambition but few advantages, Dr. Thornton watched her parents work their entire lives to give their daughters a chance, dreaming of the day their girls would be called "doctor."

Now, in Something to Prove, Dr. Thornton brings us along her continued path as a doctor, wife, and mother, revealing the challenges of balancing a flourishing medical career with managing a home and raising children. Carrying on the family name, Dr. Thornton picks up the mantle of her father's ambition and heart as she shares the ups and downs of her career as the first African-American woman in the United States to be board certified in maternal-fetal medicine-while attending her kids' chess team matches, crafting Halloween costumes, and somehow finding time to learn how to tango. Filled with vivid personalities, heartbreaking setbacks, and joyful triumphs, Something to Prove is a testament to what can be accomplished through hard work, love, and determination.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Picking up where her first memoir, The Ditchdigger's Daughters, left off, Thornton (obstetrics & gynecology, New York Medical Coll.), with Bartholomew (former contributing editor, Reader's Digest), writes of her hard work to ascend to the top of her field as a board-certified physician and professor in maternal-fetal medicine. It was the early 1980s, and she encountered both sexism and racism. Thornton writes candidly about the prejudice, unfairness, and setbacks she met with in her career—such as being relegated to inappropriate office space and denied promotions at more than one New York hospital. She also writes of the personal joys, challenges, and occasional heartbreak of being a mother, balancing responsibilities at work and at home. As readers of her first memoir will recall, Thornton's father had only a tenth-grade education but pushed his five daughters to become doctors (four of them did), while also equipping them with the valuable "life lessons" they would need to navigate a sometimes cruel world and rise above adversity. Verdict This book reads as though you're listening to and talking with a friend at the kitchen table. Thornton's frank, relaxed manner makes it accessible to general readers as well as students of women's or African American memoir. Worth considering also for those looking for inspirational reads.—Eboni A. Francis, Oberlin Coll. Lib., OH
Kirkus Reviews

Follow-up to the author's bestselling The Ditchdigger's Daughters(1995).

In her previous book, Thornton (Obstetrics and Gynecology/New York Medical Coll.) described how her working-class parents insisted that their five daughters do well in school and grow up to become doctors, which four of them did. This book begins in the early 1980s, as the author, then one of a handful of black female obstetricians in the country, joined New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center as an assistant professor in obstetrics-gynecology. She was marginalized, assigned a basement office and encountered mistreatment by colleagues that would plague much of her career at several New York–area hospitals. Ambitious and assertive, Thornton draws strength from her upbringing and perseveres in her quest for success. In her dingy digs, she improved the hospital clinic and built a thriving private practice. She won promotion to associate professor after threatening to resign upon learning that a former resident of hers "with the Cornell boys' club 'look'—tall, blonde, handsome, and well dressed" had been elevated to that rank. Later, on encountering bias at other hospitals, she recalled her father's observation, "Builds character, Cookie, builds character." Much of the book focuses on Thornton's work as a specialist in maternal-fetal medicine and her efforts to carry on the family tradition by encouraging her two gifted children to aspire to medical careers. As the book closes, Woody, a national chess champion, has graduated from medical school and plans to enter academic medicine; Kimberly is a medical student; and Thornton is a full professor—a post held by only 12 percent of female doctors—at a suburban medical college. While her story will undoubtedly attract fans of her earlier memoir, the author's relentless drive to overachieve—and her insistence that her own privileged children become physicians—may seem disconcerting to some readers, as if she had learned her father's lessons only too well. But then, as she writes, the idea was always to "pull so far ahead that nothing and no one could hold us back."

Candid and well-written.

Product Details

Kaplan Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Yvonne S. Thornton, MD, MPH, is a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology and board-certified specialist in obstetrics, gynecology and maternal-fetal medicine (high risk obstetrics) at New York Medical College, Valhalla, New York.  She has personally delivered more than 5,000 babies in her career and has overseen or supervised more than 12,000 deliveries.  She is a former Vice-Chair of a department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and is the mother of two children.

            She is the author of The Ditchdigger’s Daughters, her memoir about growing up in a poor family with parents who were determined to see all their daughters rise above their circumstances and become doctors, and Woman To Woman, a health guide that answers many questions women have about their bodies from someone who’s been on both sides of the stirrups.

During her 35-year career in medicine, she has conducted research at The Rockefeller University, the National Institutes of Health Pregnancy Research Branch, National Naval Medical Center, Naval Medical Research Institute, and New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. She is the author or co-author of more than a dozen scientific papers. She also serves as a reviewer for the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

She received her medical (M. D.) degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City and her Master of Public Health in Health Policy and Management from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.

 Anita Bartholomew is a long-time contributing editor for the Reader's Digest.

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Something to Prove: A Daughter's Journey to Fulfill a Father's Legacy 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having read Dr. Thornton's book, "The Ditchdigger's Daughters", I looked forward to reading "Something to Prove". I certainly was not disappointed; I could not put this book down. The wisdom of her parents, especially her father, was a wonderful gift to their children. From her struggles as a black woman in a "Man's" profession, she gained strength. With this wisdom and strength, along with the support of a close, loving family, what she has achieved is incredible. Dr. Thornton is an amazing woman, who is an inspiration to all!!
GAgirlMA More than 1 year ago
I first heard of Dr. Thornton when I ordered "The Ditchdigger's Daughters" for our library. What a wonderful and inspiring story! I just finished reading "Something to Prove" and again, I was not disappointed! This is a story of perseverance, tenacity, and belief in one's self. Bravo to Dr. Thornton and to all that she has accomplished!
GSL55 More than 1 year ago
From the moment I began reading, I couldn't put this book down. "Something to Prove" is both inspirational and maddening at the same time. Dr. Thornton's accomplishments in and of themselves are noteworthy, but the obstacles she endured along her journey should never have happened to such an accomplished doctor. Her memoir is a testament to her strength and ability to rise above the small-mindedness of those who surrounded her throughout her career. Dr. Thornton found strength in her parents, husband and children to keep on going and to continue striving to be the best she can be. This book made me laugh, cry, smile, cheer, and want to strangle someone...all at the same time. Thank you, Dr. Thornton, for writing your story and sharing it with us. You have touched so many people in so many ways, through your career as a doctor, mentor, professor, friend, child, wife, mother, colleague, author - THANK YOU. You are such a positive influence.
bridget3420 More than 1 year ago
The best things in life aren't handed to us, they are earned. Something to Prove is a story about the human spirit and what can be achieved by chasing your dream. Not only is Yvonne the perfect role model, her voice was made for sharing her story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and give it five stars.