Iowa City doctor, soldier shares memoir on healing

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Dr. Jon Kerstetter, who lives in Iowa City, is a remarkable fellow. His memoir, “Crossings,” recounts his journey to become a doctor, his harrowing time serving in war-torn countries — including his military service in Iraq — and his personal battle to recover his cognitive ability after suffering a stroke.

The very existence of the book is a testament to Kerstetter’s fierce will.

As he details near the book’s end, the process of writing meant overcoming the effects of the stroke to create clear descriptions of and reflections on his experiences. The language is by turns lyrical and matter of fact. Here, he recounts his struggles to help address medical needs in Rwanda:

“The aftermath of genocide and its atrocities had torn limbs and lives, had killed fathers and mothers and left their babies starving and sick. I could not save them, the mothers or their babies, and that was a curse, watching them die, knowing I had the skills but not the power to heal, knowing that war had blown apart any reasonable chance that a doctor from Iowa could save an innocent mother from Rwanda. People died every day. The despair was palpable and I had to look beyond it or risk becoming useless.”

Kerstetter shares his story with honesty and grace. This is a story of good works in the face of an array of obstacles.

This is a story of a healer who refuses to give up.

Book reading

l What: Jon Kerstetter reads from “Crossings” as part of the Iowa City Book Festival

l When: 1 p.m. Saturday

l Where: Prairie Lights Books, 15 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City

l Cost: Free

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