Customer Reviews

15
Warm Springs: Traces of a Childhood at FDR's Polio Haven
Format: PaperbackChange
Price:$11.22+Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2007
I had no interest in Polio, or FDR. I just read the book because it was recommended, and boy, I was glad that I did. I learned about the dreadful disease, the hardships of FDR, and the outlook of one amazing girl, Susan.

Just why do some have to suffer like she did? And why do those that have to undertake such an ordeal have such a positive attitude? I think about the book often, and share my new knowledge to anyone that will listen.

Enjoy.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 6, 2008
In the 1940s and early 1950s, polio epidemics spread across the United States, severely damaging the health -- and overall lives -- of many individuals, mainly children. Susan Richards, who'd been struck by the virus as a baby, was one.

At age eleven, Susan was sent to Warm Springs, a Georgia hospital and research facility where she would live among other polio patients for nearly two years. During this time, she underwent numerous painful operations as doctors struggled to help her walk and overall improve the quality of her life.

In her memoir, Shreve recalls her experiences at Warm Springs -- other children she befriended, the young priest on whom she developed a crush, her feelings of guilt over having "caused so much trouble" for her family.

While her anecdotes are overall frank and promising, the author unfortunately tends to go around in circles without much of a plot. Too many pages to count are consumed by Susan's endless jaunts throughout the hospital grounds, not really culminating in anything in particular. Frequently she sets up an element -- such as her younger brother's issues with the lifelong disruption of his nuclear family -- but fails to take it anywhere. Other times, she abruptly switches from her adolescent self to a voice clearly grown, using phrases referring to her marriage and children. This is both jarring and, again, refers to things that are never actually explained in any significant detail.

Finally, the author relies quite heavily upon the fact that Roosevelt, also a polio victim, had once stayed at Warm Springs and essentially ensured the facility's existence. Readers might appreciate a bit of background about the former president in order to gain more context about the illness and Warm Springs itself, but Shreve uses a significant chunk of her book talking about the life of Roosevelt -- giving the distinct impression of unsuccessfully searching for filler material.

If I wanted a biography of Roosevelt, I would have sought one...
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 7, 2007
Yesterday, after listening to Susan Shreve speak on NPR's Talk of the Nation, I immediately ran out to get a copy of her new book, "Warm Springs: Traces of a Childhood at FDR's Polio Haven". A longtime "history buff" of FDR, and of particular interest in the history of Warm Springs, I hoped that Shreve's memoir would add to my knowledge of the camp through the eyes of her own experience. What I found was a deeping moving story of a girl, struggling with her condition, all the while learning about others, which in turn, she learns about herself.

Susan Shreve was diagnosed with polio at quite a young age. She is moved to Warm Springs at the tender age of 11, in which her hijinx ensues. What comes across in the book quite quickly that dear young Susan is quite an imp, impressionable, and very much a part of the scene. She engages in several adventures that had me laughing outloud, and some that were serious and reflective.

Shreve manages, in like so many memoirs, to recover a time and a place that has long since passed, but to do so in such eloquence that I found myself reading and rereading pages and paragraphs from their simple beauty of words.

To wit: "Muscle to muscle, trace to trace, I am looking for a sign of possibility. At Warm Springs, traces is the word for hope. When I think of the word "traces" now, it is as a footprint or a shadow or a verb, like "unearth" or "expose" or "reveal." I've been looking for traces in my childhood that will bring the years I spent in Warm Springs into some kind of focus. In its intention, the process is very much the same as it was when I lived there and turned my attention to discovering what remained."

The sheer elegance of her writing is precious, exact. It is reminscient of the cleverness of Michael Cunningham, or the beauty of Grief by Andrew Holleran. In a couple of months, perhaps in the midst of summer, I may revisit this book, and spend time again at Warm Springs, just to bask in the glow of her words.

This would be an excellent book for any reading group, a gift for a mother or sister, or someone facing a time of trial in their lives. Thanks to Susan Sherve for crafting such an excellent portrait of her times at Warm Springs!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2008
I was anxious to read this book because like the author, I spent a good part of my childhood life in Warm Springs. I truly enjoyed this memoir which brought back memories and feelings of my own childhood. I laughed and cried and relived many of the author's experiences which were very similar to my own. The book is very well written and I have lent it out to friends that have not had any ties to polio, except knowing me. Everyone has enjoyed this light and entertaining reading.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon July 3, 2008
When I was a boy we had this lady come into my creative writing class at school, and she read to us from one of her novels. Many of us fell in love with her at first sight, and especially when she began reading the pages of her book, for her voice as many now know, is low and enchanting, the sort of voice that could launch a thousand ships. She was born a little too early to get into the phone sex business but she could have cleaned up! Now comes the tragic story of her heartwarming travails back in the late 40 and early 50s, when she was one of the "polios," as they called themselves, installed among other children in the long hot hospital they called "Warm Springs."

in little Susan's day, the specter of Franklin Roosevelt, the most famous polio victim, was ever present. His photo was in the office of the main doctor, and the little children toasted to his memory (the President had died only five years before, keeping the extent of his paralysis a top state secret, but among the stricken, he was always eager to share).

She was a difficult child born to a wonderful mother who was a top chef and did everything perfectly. Stuck in Warm Springs, her fantasy life really took off and she was forced to be the roommate of sullen, disapproving Caroline, and also she found herself a little boyfriend called "Joey Buckley," which made living in the enforced conditions of Warm Springs a bit more bearable. Her mother sent her many clippings to read, but only one book, oddly enough it was Shirley Jackson's THE LOTTERY, which Susan didn't read but Caroline did.

She had a strange but understandable passion for Father James, the hospital padre, who could make any girl forget her vows. A charming man, James had what we would call today, "charisma." I enjoyed this book but came to feel that she, Susan, was spinning out tale after tale based on tiny scraps of memory, for no one could remember all that, but embroidery is what the novelist does best: we learned that long ago at Ms. Richards Shreve's knee back in the classroom at school.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 17, 2008
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 walk normally again. Certainly not the sickest child at the haven created by FDR, Susan was by far the most spirited.

This is her very honest recollection of her time spent at Warm Springs from age 11 to 12. She details in heartbreaking detail the relationship between herself and her mother, and between herself and the other "characters" at Warm Springs; Father James, Joey Buckley, Caroline Slover, Magnolia, Paisley Jean, Rosie. She also paints a self portrait of a brave yet fearful girl trying to find her way in the world despite her disability.

I have given this book to my 12 year old daughter to read. It is a lovely book that changes the way you see the world.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2007
There is not a whole lot out there, as far as recollections of the most recent polio years in the US. Having had the disease in 1954 myself, I found this to be a friendly book. It's a great story of how polio people never quit. We, as a group regardless of our various disabilities, have had successfully full lives. And those of us who are dealing with Post Polio Syndrome just keep on keeping on, as does the author of this book.

Hats off to Susan Richards Shreve. Thanks for a good read.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on August 11, 2009
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. But Shreve's book cuts to the heart of how children afflicted with the dread disease were often isolated from their families, and hospitalized for months and sometimes years, undergoing operation after operation, "stabilizing" joints and "transplanting" muscles. Shreve herself endured some of these surgeries, taking for granted that they would help, although the truth is most of these surgeries were experimental in nature and probably were not all that useful. Shreve does not dwell on that part of her time at FDR's "polio haven" though, choosing instead to remember how she coped, between the ages of eleven and thirteen (1950-52), with being on her own and wrestling with feelings of sexual awakening and homesickness. She chose to be optimistic and useful for the most part, but she also was something of a rebel, gaining a reputation as someone who stirred things up on the sprawling hospital campus. It was during the endless hours of waiting, treatment and healing that she first discovered the pleasure of her own imagination and decided to be a writer. She also considered larger questions - flirting for a time with conversion to Catholicism, partly perhaps she had a crush on the priest who was the chaplain at Warm Springs. Shreve somehow survived her long internment at Warm Springs, and perhaps it even made her a stronger person, although this is a question she still wrestles with, as she continues to speculate on her relationship with her long-gone parents. I stayed up late last night to finish this book. There is much to be learned from Shreve's account of her time at Warm Springs, and not just about polio. For this is a book about growing up, and about finding your place in an often confusing society. Shreve is now a very respected writer and teacher, the author of dozens of books for both adults and children. I admire her tremendously for all these accomplishments, but particularly for finally writing this book. - Tim Bazzett, author of LOVE, WAR & POLIO
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on September 6, 2014
I love this book. I felt like I was right in the middle of Warm Springs polio facilities along with the author. Thank goodness, the author and star of the book, had a vivid, strong and brave personality and character, helping her to not only survive, but thrive at Warm Springs. It's a real page-turner. I so remember in the second or third grade, all of us school kids lined up to get the polio vaccine -- ca. 1954/55. P.S. 29, Staten Island, NY. I highly recommend reading this book.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on March 6, 2014
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. I was diagnosed with all three kinds of polio but recovered to walk and run - a miracle by anyone's standards. Currently, I'm recovering from back surgery, issues that over the years doctors have diagnosed as a type of Post-Polio.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed
Warm Springs
Warm Springs by Cynthia Nixon, Kathy Bates, David Paymer Kenneth Branagh (DVD - 2013)
$15.19

The Warm Springs Story: Legacy & Legend
The Warm Springs Story: Legacy & Legend by F. Martin Harmon (Hardcover - May 30, 2014)
$28.00
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.