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The Vine: February 25, 2015

Submitted by on February 25, 2015 – 1:54 PM10 Comments


I am trying to find a book I read when I was a kid (maybe a teen) in the '70s or '80s. It was old then, though.

I think it might have been published in the '50s, but I'm not sure.

It was about a girl who was a freshman at college who got polio (so presumably set before the mid-1950s). She was in a hospital for quite a while. A man named Max was in the room across the hall. I believe he also had polio. They would tell jokes across the hall, like, "She was only a chef's daughter, but what a dish." The jokes always started with, "She was only a [something's] daughter." When the girl met Max, he was a short, unattractive man, I think with very hairy, black eyebrows (I picture them as bigger than Peter Gallagher's eyebrows).

The girl eventually got out of the hospital and returned to college. She learned to walk again, but had to use different muscles, and it looked ugly/weird. She had been a popular girl, but now could not do anything she did before, like dance, and the popular guys who flirted with her before didn't like her. I think she fell in love with a friend of her brother, although I may be making up the brother part.

I do not remember the girl's name. There was Max, and a guy at the beginning who flirted with her and identified himself as the big bad wolf. The book may have been glue, but I think it was a library binding. I think it was a library discard book when I got it.

I have tried Googling using both "polio" and "infantile paralysis" but can't find anything similar. I'm hoping you or one of your readers can help. Thanks.


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  • Katie says:

    Is it Joyride by Betty Cavanna? I can't find many details on it, or if the Max character is in it, but it sounds like a possibility:

  • Trish says:

    Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio ??

  • Jessica says:

    It looks like The Trembling Years by Elsie Oakes Barber (my name links to a review.)

  • Haras25 says:

    I googled a bit with not much success, but I did find a description on the Loganberry site that sounds like it might be the same book. If so, maybe these additional details will jog someone's memory?

    "A young woman just started college. She is popular and pretty. She refers to a young man who asked her out as a "wolf". Then she gets polio and winds up in the hospital for a long time. She is very depressed because she had loved to ride horses and her now she can't. She befriends an old lady. A young charming man visits the hospital and cheers up the residents. Turns out he is a con, and steals from them. But because he also brought them happiness, they don't press charges. Eventually she returns to college. I read it during the mid-1970's so it was written before that. "

    Good luck with your search!

  • OneoftheJanes says:

    Is there any possibility this is June Opie's Over My Dead Body? A lot of it doesn't match, but it's a polio narrative from the same era with a girl of a similar age (and the details on the Opie are fuzzy to me now).

  • Wehaf says:

    There is a list of books about polio (both fiction and non-fiction) here, sorted by publication decade: Maybe your book is among them.

  • Laura says:

    I am pretty sure it is The Trembling Years. It sounds exactly right. Thanks, Jessica.

  • attica says:

    Thanks for that link, Wehaf! I found a book from my own childhood I've been wondering about! Polio and girls and horses!

    I have no idea why as a kid I was obsessed with plucky kids-with-disability stories, but I read a ton of 'em.

  • Wehaf says:

    I'm glad it helped, attica! If you like stories about girls and horses and polio, you should read Tall and Proud; I really liked it as a kid.

  • attica says:

    Wehaf: OMG! That's the book I found! It's amazoning its way to me right this very moment!

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