Go Out In Joy, by Nina Herrmann (Old Favourites #9)

One of the items on my “Old Favourites” re-read list was this lovely little memoir about a woman theology student doing her clinical pastoral training on a hospital ward for children with life-threatening neurological injuries.  Nina Herrmann’s stories about working with dying kids are perceptive, painful and often beautiful, and her honesty and self-deprecating humour about her own limitations make this book a really refreshing read.

Although this is another book that I read at a far-too-formative age, it didn’t influence my career choice — I was quite clear before I read the book and even clearer afterwards that I wanted to stay a million miles away from hospitals.  What’s interesting about reading it now is that I feel that I have found the place in my own career where I was “meant to be” just as Nina was “meant to be” in that hospital, and I understand how much you can learn about yourself as well as about your vocation in that place.  This book is not as easy to find as it once was, but it’s still a very rewarding read.

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12 Comments

Filed under Nonfiction -- memoir

12 responses to “Go Out In Joy, by Nina Herrmann (Old Favourites #9)

  1. I read this book condensed in a Reader’s Digest many years ago. I loved it, I re-read it many times, and I have since bought the full book off of Amazon.
    I am please to say from my early teens to mid-forties it still makes me cry and it still makes me re-evaluate my contribution to others.
    It also helped me to see, despite many devastating afflictions, how resilient a child can be; to continue living and loving where I would have quit.
    I couldn’t handle the extreme involvement in other peoples lives and deaths which Nina did, but she has often inspired me to continue doing whatever I can.

    • Lee Wakelin

      I have only just been lent this book by a friend who found it in a secondhand bookshop. I wish I had read it many years ago as I have found it so inspiring. I have now ordered it from Abe books as I am sure I will read it again many times. It has been very helpful also in my faith journey. I would recommend anyone who is interested in growing spiritually to read it.

  2. Ann

    I want to knw the details of the author..Nina Hermann..is she still alive?

  3. I tried to do some Googling and couldn’t find out much. I think her married name was Nina Hermann Donnelly, from what I could figure out, and the book was later re-released under her married name, along with what seems to be a later book (about grief, I think?) called I Never Know What to Say. Can’t find out any more about her than that, though.

  4. Gina

    Is there a section in this book about a little girl named Rian who has a brain tumor? I think this is the book I’ve been trying to find forever!

  5. Gina

    Thanks! I have since gotten a copy of the book and reread it. I read the RD version as a child and it made quite an impression. I did some research on Donnelley, but there isn’t much out there. I would love to know what happened to Riann’s family.

  6. Mary Cunningham

    I have a copy of this wonderful book. Nina Herrmann was the lady chaplain on 2E, Childrenns hospital when our daughter was a patient there (1974)
    She was support for both my husband and myself during our daughters surgery and recovery. I often wonder what happened to her and would love to visit with her. Is she still in the Chicagoland area?
    I also knew Rianna Mills Mother, although at the time, didn’t know she was Rianna Mother. This book is very special to me.

  7. Mary Cunningham

    Time has passed since I last asked about the wearabouts of Nina Hermann Donnelly. My daughter Julie, who was a patient when Nina was the resident Chaplain on 2E. At Childens Memorial hospital. I knew all the people in the book “go out in Joy” the names were changed for privacy. Her book gave me strength and hope, I wish I could visit with her. Julie is still with us and we are so blessed to have her. The Mother

    • Gina

      I’m happy to hear that Julie recovered and is still living. Most of the stories in that book didn’t have such a happy ending. I did some research and think I found the name of the real Riann Miles. Do you know what became of her family? There were several kids, I think.

  8. The last online mention I’ve been able to find of her dates back to 1990, when it appears she was co-chair of a hospital fundraising event in Chicago. Other than that I’ve found no traces, though I also haven’t found a death notice so she may still be alive and well, just not very visible on the internet.

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