Book review: I Am Here

Nurse consultant Nicola James reviews I Am Here by Johannes Klabbers

I am sent many books to review and usually enjoy them enormously. Not so much this one. It is a little self-indulgent. The author is Dutch and lives in Australia, having given up his university career and alcoholism to become an agnostic trainee pastor with a particular interest in offering pastoral support to atheists.

I Am Here book cover

The book is a memoir about encounters with people on an oncology ward in Melbourne, and offers an insight into how different people cope with serious illness.

However, maybe because I am a buttoned up Brit, I did not feel comfortable with his approach. I am a private person and would not welcome unsolicited offers of pastoral care, although I might seek support from trained Macmillan nurses. Indeed, it seems several of the patients he encountered shared my view. The author seemed to feel hurt when his offer of a friendly ear was rejected. The people who did want to talk to him, however, probably found their time together therapeutic.

His narrative encompasses some interesting philosophical and historical asides which I found far more enlightening. I was particularly interested in his recollection of his visit to Auschwitz and his discussion on human suffering and the infliction of that suffering by others.

This is not a bad book but there are better ones in this genre.

Johannes Klabbers | Scribe | 256pp | £12.99 | ISBN: 9781925228625

Reviewed by Nicola James, nurse consultant at Morriston Hospital, Swansea


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