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Arts

Patricia Zehr – Peggy Was Right

Lisa Tucker 4 June 2024 737 125 4


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In Peggy was Right, Patricia Zehr artfully demonstrates how a combination of hard won, high level professional knowledge and writing ability can elevate a novel to great heights. Zehr’s 43 year Canadian healthcare career (first as a registered nurse, and then practicing as an obstetrics – gynecology specialist) provides Peggy was Right with its medical science rigor. Zehr draws on her personal experience working in one of the most challenging of all modern healthcare disciplines to tell the story of Peggy, a young, idealistic Ontario nurse who deliberately chooses to seek employment in Texas – a state with one of the highest US maternal mortality rates. Texas is also a reproductive rights battleground. Conservative state legislators immediately embraced the US Supreme Court’s 2022 reversal of Roe v Wade. Texas abortion bans and other restrictive reproductive health measures soon followed.

Peggy’s decision and her story opens with a harrowing prologue set in Texas, August 2023. Delilah, a Black, working class single woman supports her granddaughter, Becky, through a crisis that sets the stage for Zehr’s broader exploration of healthcare issues, personal struggles, and often profound racial inequality. Peggy was Right places ethically and politically conflicted American society in its crosshairs, where Zehr illustrates how the so-called North American ‘abortion debate’ is unfolding in ways where hope, human rights, physical and emotional pain, personal dignity, and (ultimately) resilience continually reshape the story.

Peggy was Right is a must-read for anyone who has navigated the turbulent waters of healthcare, felt the sting of systemic indifference, or fought for the right to make choices about their own body. It speaks to healthcare professionals and advocates, women’s rights activists, and general readers alike, offering a narrative rich with empathy, insight, and the courage to confront uncomfortable truths.

Peggy was Right is Zehr’s first novel. It is her second book, a work that follows her lively and well-crafted personal memoir, The Beatles, Babies, and Broken Bodies (2022).

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Pat Zehr has been involved in healthcare for most of her life. She got her start as a candy striper at St. Mary’s Hospital in Kitchener Ontario. After graduating as a registered nurse, she spent seven years working at Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife and outpost nursing positions in the far north. Those experiences led her to complete a degree in medicine and an OB/GYN residency and embark on a decades long practice in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. A fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and surgeons, Pat is now retired from practicing medicine. 

Pat remains a health-and-wellness crusader and is actively involved as a healthcare advocate. Her aim is  to be part of the solution by helping friends, family, and others navigate the healthcare system. Pat passionately believes in and supports healthcare workers, noting, “The bottom line is if we don’t have healthy nurses, doctors, paramedics, and good working conditions, we won’t have quality patient care. We have to protect frontline workers and stop trying to do more with less.”

Visit: drpatzehr.ca

Visit: tagonapress.com/product/peggy-was-right

“The bottom line is if we don’t have healthy nurses, doctors, paramedics, and good working conditions, we won’t have quality patient care. We have to protect frontline workers and stop trying to do more with less.”

dr. pat zehr
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