By Michelle Kung
June 01, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

Warm Springs

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  • Book

Though he never makes a physical appearance, Franklin D. Roosevelt looms large in Warm Springs, Susan Richards Shreve’s moving, if uneven memoir of her two-year sojourn at the Warm Springs Polio Foundation in the early 1950s. The Toledo native was stricken with the muscle-paralyzing disease just before Jonas Salk’s vaccine became available in 1955. She shipped south at age 11 for a series of painful surgeries designed to coax all ”traces” — whispers of life in destroyed muscle — from her body. But while Shreve shares some truly raw recollections, she haphazardly mixes them with typical adolescent anecdotes (sneaking into the boys’ ward, crushing on an Irish priest) and erratic historical footnotes, dulling her tale’s emotional punch. B

Warm Springs

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