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
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

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

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

I had arrived at Warm Springs in the late summer of 1950, on the same day that Joey Buckley arrived in his leather and aluminum chair, both legs crippled, in long leg braces, a motherless boy from a small town in Alabama. I was alert to his presence, greeting every new face as a possibility, and I liked the way he looked with his square face and wide-set brown eyes. In the waiting room as we checked into the hospital, his father sat next to my mother and I remember the image of him exactly: olive skin, broad face, and long shiny hair, his head held in his big hands as if it had cut loose from his body.

“Joey would have been an athlete. He would have been a great athlete, this boy,” his father told my parents. “He would’ve played football at Alabama, and now what?”

“Now I’m going to be fixed, Papa,” Joey said. “You too?” he asked me.

It was still early morning, breakfast trays collected in the wards, meds distributed, plans in place for the rest of the day. Joey and I were parked at the top of the steep hill, looking down.

“It’s a long way to the bottom,” he said.

I was checking Joey’s casts, sticking out in front of him propped on pillows, blood seeping through the plaster at the top of both of the casts.

“The blood’s from my stabilization incision,” he said, conscious that I was looking at it. “You bled too, right?”

“Right,” I said, a shadow of doubt, a cloud floating across my sun. “But I had only one stabilization and you had two, so that’s a lot of blood.”

“It’ll dry up,” he said. “So why are we doing this?”

“For fun,” I said. “Just for fun, don’t you think?”

“Yes, for fun,” he said. He was smiling and his eyes lit up and I knew we were ready to push off.

“Hand in hand?” I called to him.

“I can’t push if we’re holding hands,” he said.

And lined up side by side, we gave a huge push on the metal ring on the wheels of our chairs and we were off down the hill, faster and faster, and I think I was squealing with excitement and so was Joey and maybe he called out “How do we stop?” but maybe he didn’t. We were going so fast, so much faster than I even imagined in my dreams of this adventure, I felt that I was losing control, the bottom of the hill rising to meet us as we sailed down side by side, and I grabbed the right wheel to stop the momentum, grabbed it with all my might so the chair would turn 180 degrees and stop there at the bottom. And as I did, sensing that the chair would stop, that I had taken control in the nick of time, I saw Joey fly into the air just ahead, out of his wheelchair, the chair tipped on its side and Joey gliding above me, his arms flailing, his heavy white casts pulling him down, down, down to the cement walk and then the heavy thud of the casts hitting the ground or the thud of his head and silence.

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 your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Crossing the Horizon
    Crossing the Horizon
    by Laurie Notaro
    In Crossing the Horizon, Laurie Notaro takes us back to a time when flying was a rare and risky ...
  • Book Jacket
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...
  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Les Parisiennes
    by Anne Sebba

    How the women of Paris lived, loved, and died under Nazi occupation.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & 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.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.