Favorite Non-Fiction Books, #30: Lights and Sirens, The Education of a Paramedic
There's something ineffably rewarding and challenging about reading the published works of someone we know. It can be a bit awkward at first, especially if the author is someone we've known from childhood, trying to separate the boy we once knew from the man speaking to us from the page. But if the author has any talent, we swiftly graduate from "hey, this is Kevin's book!" to "hey, this book is pretty good!" Kevin Grange was a classmate and teammate of mine from nearly thirty years ago, and in consuming his books I was curious to see how quickly I would forget all that and enjoy his work on its own merit.
I read Grange's first book, "Beneath Blossom Rain", and enjoyed it as a fairly breezy travelogue, though at times I struggled to make the leap from Kevin as fellow Blue Hawk to Kevin as distinct and talented narrator. With Lights and Sirens, Grange has deepened his commitment to his craft, and that transition came much more readily. His first-person narrative is more polished, and writing style more mature. At times the first portion, particularly in the classroom, can drag a touch, but I enjoyed his characterizations of his fellow classmates, and his sense of inferiority and anxiety is faithfully and believably shared.
The real treasure in this book comes in the third act, during the author's practical education with experienced paramedic professionals. He very capably describes situations and his own often overwhelmed reactions, conveying drama without venturing into the hyperbole that sometimes dogged his first book. Once I was in the second half of this book, I literally could not put it down, and swallowed it in great gulps. Grange's work gets better all the time, and I look forward to my old friend's next book with anticipation and delight.