More Reviews of The Girl in the Iron Lung

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Review Posted by Book Preview Review 02JUL13

Format: Paperback

Price: Reasonable

Recommend to others: Yes

5 Stars

Told from the voice of five year old Gail Thornton.   From the very first page, as you read, you become Gail.  You feel all the emotions she feels.  You feel her fears, her anxiety, her frustrations.  You simply become that scared child.

What an excruciating, frightening and yet extremely emotional experience.  You simply cannot help but cry with her pain and feel nothing but empathy for her.  She is desperate, even at such a young age, to please her parents while being terrified of loosing their love if she isn’t able to do what is asked .  Simple things that most people take for granted— running, jumping, playing, putting on clothes, etc.  She is determined and headstrong to be NORMAL and do all the things she was used to doing before she got sick.

I loved this memoir for so many reasons.  First of all, my own mother had polio back in the 1950’s.  Although statistics show that polio mainly affects children under five years of age, my mother was 13 years old.  Months in the hospital was what she experienced instead of an iron lung.  More than 50 years later, the affects of polio still show.

As a mother, I wept while reading the fears and thoughts Gail experienced.  What’s happening?  Why can’t I move? Why are they trying to stop me from breathing and kill me? (nurse putting on Gail’s face mask).  Why are they doing this to me?  As adults, we can begin to understand but from the eyes of a 5 year old it’s all extremely terrifying and traumatic.  The pain being so unbearable that this 5 year old has to go to her “dark place” to block out the agonizing pain.

Polio is highly infectious and is caused by a virus.  A frightening fact from the book that still shocks me is “as long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries are at risk of contracting polio.  In 2009-20010, 23 previously polio-free countries were re-infected due to imports of the virus. “ Effects of this disease can be devastating.  There are still global efforts to eradicate the disease.

 

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Review Posted by Ray 05MAR13

Format: Paperback

Price: Reasonable

Recommend to others: Yes

5 Stars

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m friends with the author. I’m in her writing group, so I had the rare and wonderful privilege of hearing her read the book as she wrote it.

It’s an emotional experience. Through Gail’s writing, you are the little girl who wakes in the night to find that her body is suddenly and inexplicably failing. The little girl can’t make her legs work, she crawls to her parents’ room desperate for help and afraid she’ll be punished for waking them up.

As if polio isn’t enough to deal with, the little girl in this story is terrified she’ll lose her parent’s love if she can’t do what’s asked of her. It makes you remember just how much children need love and reassurance, something we can lose track of all too easily.

I cried more than once while re-reading this book. But ultimately, the message isn’t about pain and suffering but overcoming extraordinary obstacles just to be a “normal” girl.

There are lots of things to recommend this book, but what I liked best about it, what I like best about my favorite books, is that it shows you the world through another’s eyes and forces you to stop for a moment and adjust your own view. A healthy habit to get into. Finally, it demonstrates the extraordinary ability to cope that exists within all of us.

 

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Review Posted by Frank 11JAN13

Format: Kindle/mobi

Price: Reasonable

Recommend to others: Yes

5 Stars

astounding
hits you in the  gut
the voice of a five year old polio victim is so real.
triumph of the spirit
truly wonderful

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Review Posted by Janet 08JAN13

Format: Kindle/mobi

Price: Reasonable

Recommend to others: Yes

5 Stars

To a five year old child, the world is all defined in absolutes. There are no degrees of any feelings, no combination of some of this and some of that, to make life less scary.

Now imagine you have become that child. You see the world through her eyes and all of this awful stuff is happening to you. That’s what happened to me, as soon as I started reading The Girl in the Iron Lung.

I became the young child whose limbs would not now do what they are supposed to do. I panicked, trying to get to my parents’ room, because I knew that they would know what to do. But my parents are afraid too. I can hear it in their voices as they hurry to get coated up for a night drive to the hospital. My parents take me to a large scary building where people dressed in white are looking down at me. Suddenly I’m being rushed down the hall on this rolling bed and taken into a room with many of these big clunky machines. I see little kids heads poking out of these machines, but that is all I see of the kids.

And I was left there in the clutches of this big loud machine that swallows me up. What could be worse? Well, perhaps the fear that you have become defective and your parents have traded you in for a daughter that works right. That can walk and reach out and show how worthy you are of their love.

You barely have an idea of what life is all about, much less the loneliness, the despair, the fear, the knowledge that you have this awful thing called Polio. Suddenly you are thrust into a world where your parents seem to be afraid and mad at you at the same time. Where other adults display their quirks in doses so large, sometimes you really can’t take it.

There were nightly exercises that hurt so much, but she knew would make her walk. There were the special clothes she had to wear that helped keep her back straight. Every day she needed the help of Mommy and Daddy to get dressed. Finally came the excitement of preparing for school. After all her hard work, Gail was certain she would be riding the bus to school just like the other kids real soon.

And then more disappointment, as she realized she would not be taking the bus with the other kids. And still more when she would fall at school and even sometimes had to ask for help. Soon, though, Gail became the triumphant young lady who not only had accomplished so much, but also had learned the skill of looking back and realizing how far she had come!

And that is what makes this book such a compelling read. It’s a coming of age story, not of a young adult. Of a child of 5 who learns real quick, and usually the hard way, what it means to grow up and take charge of her own life.

The author and I are contemporaries, yet I never had to experience any of this terrible sickness of the 50’s, Polio. Now, I realize how lucky I was!

EXCELLENT MEMOIR!!!

 

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