Book Review by Dr. Joan Naidorf: Taking the Measure

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By Dr Joan Naidorf

A Review of Nikki Erlick’s The Measure

For the record, I do not normally like books with a gimmick as the premise. I realize that I might be in the minority.  I mean, millions of people love those fantasy and sci-fi series that authors have churned out over the years. I did not know going in that The Measure, by Nikki Erlick, incorporates a gimmick, but I gave it a read anyway and I am glad I took the chance.

One of the cast of characters just happens to be an emergency physician (my own proud profession.) I have noticed this a lot lately in some works of fiction. Obviously, we are interesting, multi-faceted people who can drive the action of a plot.  We are regularly making big, life changing decisions in our workplaces. A wide assortment of people from different backgrounds and life experiences already converges in the emergency department. Additionally, particularly in this book, some crazy events occur there, so one plot event in The Measure does not totally surprise us. I am not going to spoil the plot, but the event is quite shocking.

The premise of the book elevates the question most of us must answer at one time or another: What are you going to do with the one precious life you are given? Most of us tool along making a living, having a family, and living our human lives. In The Measure, people are forced to take stock with much more urgency.  How they react is not always pretty.

Many questions are raised about individual choice, personal preferences, and respecting others. Sadly, in a darkly satirical way, the humans in society even find yet another way to discriminate against one another. Smarmy, exploitive politicians emerge while brave and virtuous people stand up to them. This dystopian fantasy offers the reader some interesting and disturbing thoughts.

Ms. Erlick reminds us all that we might want to make the most of our lives because we cannot be certain how much time we have.  Some of our cancer patients know this already and are forced to make the difficult choices.  The rest of us sail along thinking that we have our four score and ten.  We might not. The Measure is an enjoyable read with a few plot twists that keep us guessing and rooting for a rich cast of characters who tick all the boxes for gay, straight, black, LatinX and more. I was really rooting for the ER Doc.

Dr. Joan Naidorf is a physician, author, and speaker based in Alexandria, VA

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