Excerpt from Warm Springs by Susan Richards Shreve, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Warm Springs

Traces of a Childhood at FDR's Polio Haven

by Susan Richards Shreve

Warm Springs by Susan Richards Shreve
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2007, 224 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2008, 240 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


All week I’d think of the conversation I’d have with my parents the following Sunday after church, collecting imagined victories, social engagements, popularity, good behavior, although I had not told them I was going to Mass every Sunday or how little I missed the long silence of Quaker Meeting, only that noon was the best time for them to call.

I had it in mind to draw the picture of a busy twelve-year-old girl living an ordinary life in a hospital at which children got better and better and never died. I would tell them of crushes and best friends and compliments from doctors on my progress and athleticism, from nurses on my good citizenship and work on behalf of others. I was, in short, deliriously happy at Warm Springs, as they desperately hoped I would be, and grateful for the opportunity to get better for free, costing my parents almost nothing, as a result of President Roosevelt’s March of Dimes, money collected in a highly successful campaign held every year on the anniversary of the president’s birth, which supported, among other things, the treatment of children at Warm Springs.

Stopped in my wheelchair in a corner of the courtyard, thinking of the dead baby, some dead baby passing sinless into heaven, substantial or insubstantial — I just didn’t think it was possible or desirable, and the thought of it, dying and going to heaven, was unacceptable. I wanted to call my mother, my darling mother, and tell her, “A baby died today in the Babies’ Ward,” and hear her soft, magical voice pressed to the receiver, saying my name. “Susan.” But of course I would never tell my parents that a baby had died. It would frighten them, so far away from me, so vulnerable to my fate.


My plan for the day, after Joey Buckley got his wheelchair, was to go with him to the candy shop, where we got to go sometimes twice a week, always on Fridays, and this was a Friday. We’d get cheese crunchies and Grapette and sit in the sun behind the buildings, where no one would expect to see two patients sunning. I’d buy him bubblegum with baseball cards as a present for getting over surgery and we’d talk. I was an excellent listener.

And when we’d finished our snacks and I had hold of little pieces of Joey Buckley’s life, we’d race our wheelchairs down the steep paved hill where on Saturday afternoons the stretchers and wheelchairs wound their way down the path between the buildings from the courtyard to the movie theater.

I wheeled across the courtyard to the top of the paved hill and looked down. I was good with a wheelchair. I could push the chair up to a high speed, take hold of the right wheel with a strong grip, and make a 180- degree spin so that my body, like a keeling racing sailboat, was nearly parallel to the sidewalk. I could wheel up that hill without stopping, without slipping backward, my hands like little vises on the wheels, the bone showing through the skin. I wanted to move as fast as the chair would go — crouch my body down low so my head was just over my knees stretched out in front of me. I stopped at the top of the hill on level ground just before the bend, but if I were to move inches into the downgrade, the chair would be off on its wild ride to the bottom of the hill and I’d be holding on for dear life. That’s how I saw myself, and imagining the speed, imagining Joey Buckley flying beside me, our hands on the wheels, ready to stop on a dime, I decided we’d do just that — we’d race down the hill this morning, early, before too many people were sitting around the courtyard on such a fine day. First, before doing anything else, we’d race to the bottom and secure our friendship like surviving warriors. We’d make it to the bottom and fall into each other’s arms.

Copyright © 2007 by Susan Richards Shreve. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    My Name Is Leon
    by Kit De Waal
    Kit de Waal's striking debut, My Name is Leon, has inspired this big, long, complicated question: ...
  • Book Jacket: New People
    New People
    by Danzy Senna
    Danzy Senna has spent virtually her entire writing career exploring the complicated intersections of...
  • Book Jacket: Hunger
    Hunger
    by Roxane Gay
    In this penetrating and fearless memoir, author Roxane Gay discusses her battle with body acceptance...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
News of the World by Paulette Jiles

A brilliant work of historical fiction that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Heart's Invisible Furies
    by John Boyne

    A sweeping, heartfelt saga set in Ireland from the author of The Boy In the Striped Pajamas.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Resurrection of Joan Ashby

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas

Epic, propulsive, incredibly ambitious, and dazzlingly written--a story about sacrifice and motherhood.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A F Out O W

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.