Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book review: Dear Canada: To Stand on My Own by Barbara Haworth-Attard

Dear Canada: To Stand on My Own by Barbara Haworth-Attard (Published by Scholastic Canada, October 1, 2010)

At the suggestion of her mother, Noreen Robertson begins a diary in June 1937, shortly before her twelfth birthday. The Robertson family lives in Saskatchewan, where most people are struggling financially as a result of the Great Depression. There is also the worry of a polio epidemic. Noreen thinks her mother is being overprotective during the epidemic, until Noreen herself becomes ill with polio.

Noreen began her diary reluctantly, but during her recovery from polio, writing is one of the few things she can still do. She writes about her stay in the hospital, her fears of never being able to walk again, her return home, and the month she spends at a hospital with a special physical therapy program that tries to help children recovering from polio learn to walk again.

At first I found this book a bit slow-moving. A lot of it was just Noreen feeling sorry for herself, feeling guilty for not listening to her mother, wondering if she was being punished, etc. I suppose her self-pity was realistic since it would be awful to be twelve years old and be told you would probably never walk again. I did eventually enjoy the book and Noreen's character grew and matured and in the end she decided to focus on the good things that happened as a result of her experiences, rather than the bad, and how she could use what she had learned to help others like herself in the future.

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