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Poster Child: A Memoir Paperback – Bargain Price, December 26, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (December 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596915056
  • ASIN: B001P80LEG
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,295,662 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rapp, a writing professor at Antioch University, has crafted a meditative, nuanced account of her life, which began with a grim prognosis after she was born in 1974 with a shortened leg. At first, her handicap is filtered through the prismatic fantasy of girlhood. "I felt singled out and special," she reflects, spinning stories of dragon attacks to enthralled schoolmates in Nebraska and Wyoming. In a childhood marked by surgeries and prosthetic fittings, she becomes a bubbly poster child for the local March of Dimes. As the daughter of a pastor and fiercely optimistic parents, Rapp prays earnestly for a normal leg even as she feverishly overcompensates for the artificial limb through witty verve and rambunctious horseplay. But in adolescence, she struggles with her image in the eyes of others. Her leg "may have been couture," she jokes, "but it certainly wasn't fashionable." Rapp's unrelenting push toward normalcy even takes her to Korea as a Fulbright scholar, where she must fend for herself even with a few hydraulic malfunctions. But she's too sharp and self-aware to either laugh her travails away or admit total defeat. Though she demonstrates daunting reserves of pluck, she isn't afraid to hold the sugarcoating and confront the irresolvable dilemmas. Her piercing metaphors and sudden, unexpected jabs of humor enhance the candid appeal of this "underdog" tale. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—Rapp was an extraordinary child. Born with a congenital defect, she had her left ankle amputated at the age of four. Four years later, after dozens of surgeries, her entire leg below the knee was gone. Her parents—a Lutheran minister and a nurse—told her she could be anything she wanted. And she tried and reveled in the attention. She became the March of Dimes poster child, an amputee skier, and eventually won a Fulbright Scholarship to Korea. But this is not the story of her achievements. Instead, the book chronicles her poignant journey to make peace with her flaws. In exquisite prose and with keen self-awareness, Rapp imagines how her parents must have reacted to the child born with a deformed leg, the extremes they went to so that she could feel "normal," how much she loved being a poster child, and the church ladies' gifts and visits during her various surgeries. And then came her slow realization that what children had called her—"a cripple" and "peg leg"—was true and she didn't need to do it all. At book's end, Rapp and her parents find a box filled with every prosthetic device she ever wore, from a brace as a toddler to each new artificial limb as she grew to adulthood. It is an illuminating moment in her struggle to accept her disability. Young adults, often obsessed with defects both real and imagined, will identify with the author's need at first to be extraordinary, and then her final acceptance of the imperfect, but valued person she really is.—Pat Bangs, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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The subject matter and the detailed manner in which it was handled was very sad and very graphic.
Jane in N.H.
Her spiritual road was difficult and it took her a while to find her way and to accept herself, but her journey is inspirational and I am so glad I read it.
Anne Salazar
If you are the type of traveler who needs a good book to make six hours feel like six seconds, or even if you are not, you should buy this book.
Ms. O. V. Denman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By John R. Guthrie on February 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rapp, Emily. Poster Child: A Memoir. New York: Bloomsbury, 2007.

Poster Child takes an unflinching look at the author's congenital impairment, Proximal Focal Femoral Deficiency, an abnormality involving maldeveloment of her left femur and related complications. This required an amputation of the affected foot in order to fit a prosthesis, then a series of 10 or so revisions, many involving major surgery. The author is as focused as a laser and devoid of self-pity in recounting the surgical traumata, the pain and indignity of the procedures, and the requirement that as a young child she had to lie prone in a body cast for weeks on end.

Inevitably, this included fears of unworthiness in a society that sets a high premium on feminine pulchritude; adolescent angst concerning self-image increased by an order of magnitude due to the presence of the artificial limb.

The limb itself, a complex device, was capable of embarrassing malfunction, noisiness, the sudden eversion of the foot as well as difficulties wioth proper fit.

She dealt with her problem by being "perfect," a high achiever which included being the chirpy poster child for The March of Dimes, the student manager of the girls volleyball, basketball, and track teams in junior high, studies at St. Olaf's College, a Fulbright Scholarship, Harvard Divinitiy School, and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Texas-Austin.

The language of Poster Child coupled with a profound perceptiveness and often lyrically beautiful: "...sooner or later, the pain ends up in your heart, and that's where it stays...Words spoken aloud in your own moonlit bed--crippled, deformed, unlovable--find their own darkness then come back for you (127).
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Carrie on January 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Poster Child tells a delightful and deep story that touches on universal truths and yet takes the reader into a world that is uniquely Emily Rapp's. The writing is exquisite--not a word in the book that seems unnecessary or out of place. I couldn't put this book down...stayed home and read it cover to cover. When I was finished, I felt that it was one of those few books that has the power to really change how one looks at the world.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Beverly Rogers on January 6, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an incredible book and one that should be mandatory reading especially in high schools. I will never again look at a handicapped person without appreciating the difficulties they encounter every day. Emily Rapp has given such an insightful account of her life - one can only admire that she had the courage to be so honest. Thank you Emily - your book has enriched my life.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Amara VINE VOICE on June 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
There were parts of this memoir which were totally compelling---especially the parts about Rapp's earlier childhood. I think her telling of how a single bully in elementary school caused such devastating hurt to her should be required reading for all elementary school teachers and principals, to remind them how important it is to prevent bullying. I also was very taken with her descriptions of the workshops where her prosthesis were made, and her kinship with the war veterans there.

However, I felt a bit lost in places. It seemed like chunks of her life were left out or glossed over, and I didn't totally understand the roots behind the breakdown she suffered in South Korea. I also didn't really see what led her to go to divinity school, and then wondered why she didn't continue with a religious life. Perhaps some of the theological parts of the book were over my head.

I imagine this book would be a very important one for other girls and women in Emily Rapp's position, and I am glad she wrote about her life.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Maya North, iPinionSyndicate columnist and copy editor on March 8, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Emily Rapp is a fierce spirit housed in a body that was perfect to a point--given a flaw that made her feel conspicuous and invisible--that made her other in a world where she both wanted to fit and from which she rightly felt alienated. Most likely a right ruddy little terror, the gorgeous little poster child for the March of Dimes had a powerful love/hate relationship with her left leg and its wooden and then mechanical simulacra. How she comes to terms with her body, with herself -- and ultimately meets and connects with women from all over the world whose bodies vary in form and ability -- reveals the fierce power of Emily's spirit, her intense determination, and her ultimate acceptance that as she says, ultimately, it was her body and it belonged only to her. For everyone who has ever felt set apart, Emily Rapp reveals the treasures and travails of being other in a world that defines normal as homogenous.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jana McBurney-Lin on August 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Rapp's beautiful description takes you through the crowded streets of Korea, the romantic cafes of Dublin, the dingy offices of doctor after doctor as she tries to get a leg that fits, all the way to the brutally honest mirror in her bathroom. Or is it yours? Her story is frank and engaging. Her struggle one that each one of us can identify with at some point in our lives: the struggle to be "normal."
Poster Child is one of those books that makes you question your own values and assumptions. Poster Child is one of those books that will stay with you forever.
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