This is Going to…make you laugh. A review of ‘This is Going to Hurt’ by Adam Kay

When I read this book over the summer, the genre was rather new to me. I normally stick to the murder mystery novels that I know and love. However, this text has completely changed my opinion on non- fiction literature. To give this text anything under 10/10 would be unfair. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone. The author, Kay, is clearly a talented comedian, who uses humour to express a current concern about the careers of juniors doctors. Kay’s writing is fun and relatable, alongside being thought provoking and deeply informative. I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this book. I have never found a book which can spark both tears of laughter and sadness in one page to quite this extent. It is an incredible text, of which I was sad to finish and am already hoping for a second.

As well as the comedy element of the novel, I really enjoyed learning more about the junior doctor’s career. This text gave a personal, raw and emotional account of what it is like to work in the obs and gynae section of the NHS. I was shocked to hear of the understaffing, horrendous work hours and in general the mistreatment of lots of doctors. I feel as if lots of people are aware of the under funding of the NHS, however do not completely understand or are informed about the extent of how those working in the midst of it are treated, how their relationships are affected and how many hours they dedicate to their profession. The book provides so much moving, and often shocking information, effectively creating a rounded picture of the hospital atmosphere (and in particular the labour ward) as a work environment. For most people, a list of facts is hard to sympathise with, therefore the first hand diary accounts written by Kay are easy to understand and understandably have struck a cord with so many people. 

The comedy of the text is probably it’s most appealing and adveritised quality, and I think that is justified. The dark humour, ridiculously farcical patient stories and the general satire of lots of aspects of the job is hilarious. I found myself genuinely laughing and sharing these funny moments with the people around me. The comedy also allows the more serious aspects of the book to be easier to digest. Death and disease is treated explicitly, but accompanied with humour, which seems to reflect how the doctors experience their careers. Their difficult working moments are only made possible to cope with by having a lighthearted spirit, and a good sense of humour. On one page, the reader will be embedded in to a hilarious joke, and by the end of the page the joke has been suddenly overridden by an intense and potentially fatal operation. It truly highlights the rollercoaster ride that doctors experience on a day to day basis. Their careers are not the usual 9-5 reliable jobs, but are jam packed of surprise moments, laughter, tears and a complete lack of sleep. 

Despite being a comedy, we are left with a sad ending after Kay decides to leave the medical profession. This is not a spoiler, as in fact Kay opens the text by talking about his leave from the NHS. By opening with his resignation, the reader is constantly aware that underneath the humour that Kay is presenting, was a junior doctor whose lifestyle was deeply affected by the work hours, and often the deeply sad and often scary events his working day was filled with. His leave from the NHS puts in to perspective the sincerity of the subject; behind all the comedy is an NHS which only runs due to the sincere dedication of the medical professionals, but sometimes this can’t be enough. 

This is an incredible book. It is certainly not a book that hides away from grave themes or important messages, however these themes are delivered through an extremely clever sense of humour. It very much runs off the saying ‘laugh so you don’t cry’. The reader truly gets a sense of what it would be like to work as a junior doctor, but also is entertained from start to finish. 

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