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A Good Time to be Born: How Science and Public Health Gave Children a Future

Written by Dr. Perri Klass | Reviewed by Rev. Chelsea Cornelius

A Good Time to be Born is a compelling, complex, and meditative review of pediatric public health in the United States, and a reflection on the profound ways that science, medicine, and public health shape how and why we now expect that most children survive into adulthood–a profound achievement of the last 100 years.

With a reverent blend of art and science, Dr. Klass also reviews the literature and media that shaped public perceptions of parenting and parental grief, in a world that not so long ago was faced with the realities of profoundly high rates of infant and child mortality. She expertly accounts for the historical complexities of race, class, and education, but reminds readers that no family is ever truly exempt from the risk of child loss–think of Baby Ruth Cleveland, Calvin Coolidge Jr., Willie Lincoln, or Patrick Kennedy.

Klass’ insight gives me perspective as a Pediatric Chaplain with deep gratitude for the era in which I work in medicine. The book also gives me pause as a person who might raise a child of my own someday, and the profound complexity of what children (and their parents and caregivers) face as new challenges of survival and wellbeing. I found the book not just informative, but deeply moving.

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