- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; Reprint edition (January 2, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1596915056
- ISBN-13: 978-1596915053
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 33 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #862,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Poster Child: A Memoir Paperback – December 26, 2007
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“Poster Child is memoir at its finest. Emily Rapp has crafted a book that's both descriptive and reflective, poignant yet never self-indulgent, with a breathtaking final scene. I point to this book in nonfiction classes now and tell students, "This! This is what you should aspire to!” ―Hope Edelman, author of Motherless Daughters
“[Rapp's] cauterizing specificity is compelling, her candor incandescent and her intelligence, courage and spiritual diligence stupendous…measured and resonant…there isn't one false note here.” ―Donna Seaman, Los Angeles Times
“You can't put down this excellent memoir…Poster Child beautifully illustrates every human being's sometimes overt, sometimes covert struggle against the intractability of our own physical condition.” ―Carolyn See, Washington Post
“Honest and perceptive…Focusing on the challenges she faced as a girl, and later as a young woman, with an artificial leg, the memoir is revelatory and emotional, truthful and empathetic. ” ―Christina Eng, San Francisco Chronicle
“Mature and graceful…this book is a blessing.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Emily Rapp brilliantly succeeds at communicating the pain, shame and profound strangeness she experienced as a young amputee. [She] writes breathtakingly, almost magically, of the world of wooden legs, silicone feet and metal knee hinges that are made in a filthy workshop by a man who has no soap in his bathroom and dying plants in his waiting room.” ―Donna Minkowitz, Newsday
“The best memoirs tell great stories uncovering the nuances of a life and the sometimes extraordinary situations that make it unique. They delve deep into the author's psyche sharing life's unpredictable, painful, and sometimes joyful, moments. Emily Rapp's riveting Poster Child is one such book...Thanks to Rapp's honest, straightforward confessions, we come a little closer to walking in her shoes.” ―Mary Houlihan, Chicago Sun-Times
“Everything about Emily is uniquely wonderful: Her memory; her story; her voice; her human insights; her endless strength, honesty and grace; her pitch-perfect prose. My only criticism with this book is that it ended.” ―Amy Krouse Rosenthal, author of Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life
“With a voice as refreshing as spiked lemon ice, authentic, feisty and tender, Poster Child connects us to an unflinching American family and to a guileless young woman who tells her emerging story with luminous self-command. At every quarter turn we follow the narrator's transformations from her first tentative steps and into glittering prisms of personal challenge and explosive discovery. A triumph of warmth, wit, and a fiercely lyric psyche.” ―Maria Flook, author of Invisible Eden and My Sister Life
“Emily Rapp tells a revealing and believable story of physical endurance, a fierce will, and the devotion of a remarkable family. Some difficult things in life can never be solved however hard we try, and Emily Rapp's memoir details her congenital defect and the ensuing medical ordeals. Graced with many gifts--intelligence, beauty, and spirit--Emily Rapp's greatest achievement is to help us understand what it really means to be a whole person.” ―Laura Furman, author of Drinking with the Cook and series editor of The O.Henry Prize Stories
“The pain of endless surgeries, the fear of never being loved, the longing to be whole in a culture ruled by a heartless obsession with physical perfection. These emotions underlie Emily Rapp's wonderful book, but they don't define it. Poster Child is too much fun to read, too rich with hard-headed detail about everything from the terrors of miniskirts to the mechanics of artificial limbs, to be mistaken for a woeful tale of disability. Here is what it is like to have a daring mind, a full heart--and one leg.” ―Stephen Harrigan, author of Challenger Park
About the Author
A former Fulbright scholarship recipient, Emily Rapp has received numerous awards and recognition for her work, including from the Atlantic Monthly, StoryQuarterly, and the Corporation of Yaddo. In 2006 she was the Philip Roth Writerin- Residence at Bucknell University. She is currently a professor in the M.F.A. program at Antioch University Los Angeles.
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I must have bought the book based to a large extent on the cover, because I have had it for some time and have glanced at it frequently on my shelves, but only recently noticed that it is called POSTER Child; I thought the title was FOSTER Child. Did I not have my glasses on? Did I buy it too quickly? Did I judge the book by it's cover? Probably yes, yes, and yes. But I'm glad I bought it and am happy to have read it.
For a child to be born with a disability such as hers, and to lose a leg so young, and then to be celebrated for that, would be confusing for any of us. Emily Rapp had the best sort of parents and medical care, but still she suffered through her teen years and early adulthood in ways most of us don't, although most girls do experience some sort of angst around issues of popularity and acceptance into "the crowd". I would hope that Emily's emotional pain has been somewhat mitigated by being able to put her experiences into words so perceptively and so beautifully. 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.
Also I had no idea how primitive or basic artificial limbs had been for many, many years. How terribly painful and difficult they were to live with. I had not given this subject the interest it deserves. I very glad that I read Poster Child. I think it covers a tragic part of life that most of us have been able to ignore.
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)."
Emily Rapp's Poster Child is more than a disability memoir. It could serve as a text book case for how to write an autobiography. It is a coming of age story told with gritty frankness, but more so, a deeply human story of loss, renewal and redemption.
While reading the book I was struck by her honesty regarding her pleasure in the attention she received in her disability. Not sure if I could allow myself that vulnerability. Bravo Emily, you made me think and feel.