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Warm Springs: Traces of a Childhood at FDR's Polio Havenby Susan Richar Shreve
Synopses & Reviews
A rich and moving memoir of childhood illness and its aftermath by a member of the last generation of Americans to have experienced childhood polio
Just after her eleventh birthday, at the height of the frightening childhood polio epidemic, Susan Richards Shreve was sent as a patient to the sanitarium at Warm Springs, Georgia. It was a place famously founded by FDR, a perfect setting in time and place and strangeness for a hospital of crippled children.
There the young Shreve met Joey Buckley, a thirteen-year-old in a wheelchair who desperately wants to play football for Alabama. The shock of first love and of separation from her fiercely protective mother propels Shreve on a careening course from Warm Springs bad girl to overachieving saint and back again. This indelible portrait of the psychic fallout of childhood illness ends — like Tobias Wolff's Old School — with a shocking collision between adolescent drive and genteel institution.
During Shreve's stay at Warm Springs, the Salk vaccine was developed, an event that put an end to a harrowing time for American families. Shreve's memoir is both a fascinating historical record of that time and an intensely felt story of childhood.
An indelible portrait of the fallout of childhood illness, separation from a protective mother, and first love, Shreve chronicles her stay at the Warm Springs sanitarium during the height of the polio epidemic. Her memoir is both a fascinating historic record and an intensely felt story of childhood.
Just after her eleventh birthday, Susan Richards Shreve was sent to the sanitarium at Warm Springs, Georgia. The polio haven, famously founded by FDR, was a perfect setting in time and place and strangeness for a hospital of crippled children.” During Shreves two year stay, the Salk vaccine would be discovered, ensuring that she would be among the last Americans to have suffered childhood polio.
At Warm Springs, Shreve found herself in a community of similarly afflicted children, and for the first time she was one of the gang. Away from her fiercely protective mother, she became a feisty troublemaker and an outspoken ringleader. Shreve experienced first love with a thirteen-year-old boy in a wheelchair. She navigated rocky friendships, religious questions, and family tensions, and encountered healing of all kinds. Shreves memoir is both a fascinating historical record of that time and an intensely felt story of childhood.
About the Author
SUSAN RICHARDS SHREVE has published thirteen novels, most recently A Student of Living Things. She is a professor of English at George Mason University and formerly cochair and president of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. She has received several grants for fiction writing, including a Guggenheim fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts award. Shreve lives in Washington, D.C.
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