A deeply moving narrative of the coronavirus pandemic, told through portraits of eight individuals who worked tirelessly to help others.
In March 2020, COVID-19 overtook the United States, and life changed for America. In a matter of weeks the virus impacted millions, with lockdown measures radically reshaping the lives of even those who did not become infected. Yet despite the fear, hardship, and heartbreak from this period of collective struggle, there was hope.
In The Helpers, journalist Kathy Gilsinan profiles eight individuals on the front lines of the coronavirus battle: a devoted son caring for his family in the San Francisco Bay Area; a not-quite-retired paramedic from Colorado; an ICU nurse in the Bronx; the CEO of a Seattle-based ventilator company; a vaccine researcher at Moderna in Boston; a young chef and culinary teacher in Louisville, Kentucky; a physician in Chicago; and a funeral home director in Seattle and Los Angeles. These inspiring individual accounts create an unforgettable tapestry of how people across the country and the socioeconomic spectrum came together to fight the most deadly pandemic in a century.
Beautifully written and profoundly moving, The Helpers is about ordinary people who stepped up to meet an extraordinary moment. “This is the story of how we beat the pandemic,” Gilsinan writes, “but I hope that it someday serves as an introduction to the story of how we made a better country. That future starts with people like the ones in this book.”
About the Author
Kathy Gilsinan is a contributing writer at the Atlantic, where she has reported on national security and contributed to its extensive and acclaimed coronavirus coverage. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri.
Kathy Gilsinan’s optimistic The Helpers describes the remarkable awakening that coalesced around the COVID-19 pandemic. Gilsinan does not shy away from the very real grief, but her powerful storytelling brings to light the grit, urgency, and inspiration of ordinary Americans in extraordinary times. A necessary dose of hope!
— Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD, clinical professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine, Editor-in-Chief of Bellevue Literary Review, and author of When We Do Harm
Brilliantly conceived, carefully reported, grippingly and vividly written, The Helpers is a story of the pandemic that will last.
— James Fallows, coauthor of Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America
Poignant stories from the darkest days of the pandemic.... Compassionate throughout, [Gilsinan] effectively conveys the struggles, fears, and sacrifices that each of these individuals faced. She also exposes many of the fatal flaws in the American medical system. A comforting, much-needed reminder that we are still all in this together.
— Kirkus Reviews
Inspiring.... Intimate and engaging, this is a worthy tribute to those who stepped forward in a time of tremendous need.
— Publishers Weekly