Novelist Shreve recollects her years spent from ages 11 to 13 at Warm Springs Polio Foundation in Georgia: "Traces are little whispers of life in muscles destroyed by the polio virus." The traces of this eloquently written memoir, however, are not merely physical; they are the whispers of the time, brief glimpses into the social climate of the 1950s, into the religious longing of a lonely young girl hoping for a connection, into the mindset of the president who led the country despite a debilitating handicap. While the events take place as Shreve recovers from surgeries that would allow her to walk better, polio becomes a minor character; her friendships with the others in the facility, her innocent romance with a fellow patient and her growing attraction to the priest take center stage as she tries to make herself into a "good" girl: "I remember reading once," she writes, "about the strange attractor, a star that unsettles planetary balance, which was the role I seemed to play in our family life." The writing of this beautifully told story is delicate and precise, even as she calls into question her own memories: "we lived in a kind of maze, a finely spun fairy tale created by my parents in which some things were clear and some were fuzzy.... I assumed that what I saw was true. I didn't realize until I was older that seeing is a matter of choice." (June)
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It's hard to tell whether Shreve's affecting book on her two years at the Warm Springs Polio Foundation is more memoir of adolescence or agonizing confession. But no matter. What is clear is that, when she entered the facility at age 11, she got off to a running start at teenage rebellion. From developing a prohibited friendship with the daughter of a black cleaning woman to sneaking into the boys' wing to, finally, the stunt that triggered her swift removal from Warm Springs, Shreve proved that a wheelchair was no hindrance to preadolescent high jinks. Despite her precipitous departure, she maintains vivid and mostly fond memories of the place and, especially, of partner-in-crime Joey Buckley and of Father James, on whom she developed a serious crush. Her recollections of the period, the facility, and its staff evoke a time when the U.S. was desperate for solutions to the raging polio pandemic. An appealing memoir and a significant snapshot of an era. Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I love this book. I felt like I was right in the middle of Warm Springs polio facilities along with the author. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Suzanne G. Beyer
I have a friend who spent some of her childhood in Warm Springs. She never talked about her experience living at Warm Springs and I wanted to gain some insight. Read morePublished 16 months ago by paulafishes
I spent several months at Warm Springs in 1954 with polio. This well-written book took me back to age 7 to meet anew old, familiar faces and remember names of stricken friends. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Ellen H. Phillips
This is one of the most thought-provoking books about polio that I have read, and I read a pile of polio books a few years ago while researching a book I was writing. Read morePublished on August 11, 2009 by Timothy J. Bazzett
This is a beautiful book, a perfect memoir. Susan Richards was stricken with polio as a baby, and her devoted mother(and father) sent her to Warm Springs, GA to try and help her... Read morePublished on August 17, 2008 by Kiki
Being a post-polio survivior myself, I took great interest in this true account of a young girl's memory of her years there. Read morePublished on November 13, 2007 by Florence
This book was beautiful, honest and thoughtful. To remember what it was to be 11 or 16 or 25 and what was important to us then and to keep from judging our younger selves seems to... Read morePublished on July 20, 2007 by Susan K. Gushue