From the BC doctor who became an international celebrity for her handling of the pandemic, a personal account of the first weeks of COVID, and how the virus was brought under control, for readers of Sam Nutt’s Damned Nations and James Maskayk’s Life on the Ground Floor.
Dr. Bonnie Henry has been called “one of the most effective public health figures in the world” by The New York Times, “a calming voice in a sea of coronavirus madness” by Globe and Mail health reporter Andre Picard, and “our hero” in the National Post. In a moment defined by lies and half-truths, cynicism and paranoia, Henry’s transparency, humility, and humanity set her apart, and her trademark enjoinder to be calm, be kind, and be safe became words for us all to live by.
Through this unique lens, we look anew at a crisis that has gripped the world for months now, and into the private life and decision-making process of a Canadian woman who has emerged as an international figure both for her humanity in the face of suffering and her acumen and decisiveness as her policies succeeded where so many others failed to “flatten the curve.” Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe will give a glimpse of what it means to be firm in the face of crisis, and what it means to heal in the aftermath of a shock that has brought devastation on so many levels.
Coincidentally, Dr. Henry’s sister, Lynn, arrived in BC for a long-planned visit on March 12, 2020. For the four ensuing weeks, Lynn had rare insight into the whirlwind with its moments of agony and gravity as well as its occasional episodes of levity and grace. Both a global story and a family story, this tale combines Lynn’s observations and knowledge of Bonnie’s personal and professional background with Bonnie’s recollections of how and why decisions were made, to tell in a vivid way the dramatic tale of the four weeks that made all the difference to millions of people. A short, sharply focussed book, composed in two clear, articulate voices, and divided into four parts—one for each week—plus a prologue and epilogue.
This is a book about communication, leadership, and public trust; about the balance between politics and policy; and about, at heart, what and who we value, as individuals and a society.
About the Authors:
DR. BONNIE HENRY brought a wealth of world-wide public health experience to her current role when she was appointed two years ago. Her press briefings, broadcast across various media, have become must-watch events for all BC residents—and, increasingly, for hundreds of thousands of people across Canada. She lives in Victoria.
LYNN HENRY is the Publishing Director at Knopf Canada. Her many distinguished authors include Madeleine Thien, whose novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing won the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction; Miriam Toews, whose novel Women Talking was one of the bestselling fiction books of 2018; and many other literary stars in the making and Canadian and international writers of note. She lives in Toronto.