This review was written for LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers. I received a copy of this book from the publisher to review.

“The Alternative: Your Family’s Guide to Wellness” by Elena Upton
Fifth Element Press (2019) 2nd Edition
3.5 / 5

“The Alternative: Your Family’s Guide to Wellness” is a book by Elena Upton, Ph.D., a classically trained Homeopath. It contains the usual disclaimers for health-related books. The type-face that’s been used seems particularly small and at times was difficult to read, but there is plenty of white-space, so that does help.

The first few chapters of the book focus on the history and implementation of natural medicine and some of its different disciplines. Of particular interest is “How Did We Get Here?” which deals with the 1908 report by Abraham Flexner, commissioned by the Carnegie Foundation to study medical schools in the United States. It’s alleged that, within a few years of its publication, the recommendations of the report were responsible for the demise of not only most of the medical schools in the U.S. (those that weren’t affiliated with a University), but also most of the alternative medicine options. Also mentioned is the “Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973” which made health care in this country a for-profit enterprise.

While the book centers on homeopathy, there is some introductory information about Chinese medicine and acupuncture, naturopathy, and chiropractic and osteopathic processes. Most of the book is dedicated to setting forth the causes and symptoms of common maladies and injuries and the homeopathic remedies for them, but some of the entries include other types of treatment possibilities.

This is a great book for Inquiring Minds that Want to Know more about natural medicine, why it isn’t currently at the forefront of medical care in the U.S. like it is in the rest of the world, and some examples of how to implement it. But this book will also work for someone who already has an interest in homeopathy or other healing arts. There are actual remedy dosages listed in this book. I’ve read a lot of herbals and other books of natural and alternative medicine, and it’s refreshing to find this information actually put forth. It has to do with the nature of homeopathic remedies themselves — there’s pretty much no way you can hurt yourself with them and that’s the crux of the controversy.

I don’t know that homeopathy will every be my go-to medical route, but there’s a lot of information in this book that’s still useful and relatable. I’m very happy to have this book in my library.

Make it Right by Ron YatesThis review was written for LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers. I received a copy of this book from the author to review.

“Good fiction presents plausible problems. Chekhov maintained that the artist is not required to solve the problem but to correctly formulate it. I feel cheated when an author provides a tidy package without allowing me to participate in wrapping it up. I’d hate to deny my readers the opportunity of struggling with the problems I’ve formulated. In grappling with them, the reader will decide if they’ve been correctly formulated.”

When I saw these words in the preface, my heart sank. I don’t want to grapple with problems. I do that all day. When I settle in to read I want all the hard work done for me. I guess I want to be cheated with tidy packages. It’s also been my experience that when an author or screenwriter makes these claims, it usually feels like they were just lazy and couldn’t figure out how to finish the book or movie they were working on. I’m very relieved this wasn’t true of Ron Yates and these offerings.

I really enjoyed these stories and didn’t feel I was left hanging after finishing any of them. That’s not to say it was all over as soon as the last page was turned. I still find images and thoughts of most of these stories popping into my head at odd times, especially “I Sank the Mandolin.”

I love the way Ron Yates writes — direct and to the point — and his style was quite refreshing. There isn’t a word in these stories that doesn’t belong and make sense; no verbose scene-setting to skim through. But you still get that feeling of, say, exploring the old abandoned barn. And you still know enough about the characters to actually care about what happens to them, or to realize you have people in your own life who are just like that.

This is a short book and a quick, thought-provoking read.