This Intimate Portrait of an Individual with a Disability
Sheds Light on What it's Like to be Marginalized by Society
Throughout the history of our country, society has defined some groups of people —whether it is based on religion,
race, disability, or sexual orientation — as less than other people. The Polio Journals explores what happens
to an individual — in this case a woman paralyzed by polio — and multiple generations of her family when the
very essence of who they are is deemed shameful by society.
2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
2012 Benjamin Franklin Award
2012 Eric Hoffer Book Awards
2011 National Indie Excellence Awards
18th Annual CIPA EVVY Awards
19th Annual Writer's Digest Book Awards
The Polio Journals: Lessons from My Mother
"The Polio Journals is not just a sharply observed chronicle of the ravages of disease and pain,
but rather a testimony to how both the disabled and the nondisabled suffer in a culture where illness and honest
suffering are shrouded in silence, secrecy, and shame. "
—Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., author of The Dance of Anger
"The Polio Journals is a remarkable achievement and worthy of inclusion in disability studies."
—Gary Presley, The Internet Review of Books, and author of 7 Wheelchairs: A Life Beyond Polio
"With the aid of her mother's deeply honest and often harrowing journals, Anne Gross relates an
elegant, moving story of a complex and extraordinary life silently defined by disability."
—Kathryn Black,author of In the Shadow of Polio: A Personal and Social History
"Everyone working with the confusions and hurts of patients, not just the physically disabled but also those with
invisible wounds, should read this book. Dr. Gross has written an unusual, insightful and excellent book."
—James E. Gardner, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist and author of The Turbulent Teens
"The Polio Journals is a compelling narrative that explores the psychological costs of polio across
—Daniel J. Wilson, Ph.D., author of Living with Polio: The Epidemics and Its Survivors
"Any family dealing with chronic disability should find insight and wisdom from its pages."
—Michael D. Shadix, senior librarian, Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation
Part memoir, part social commentary, The Polio Journals
tells the story of Carol Rosenstiel, the author's mother, who contracted the disease in 1927 at the age of two, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down until her death in 1985. In the 1920s, society viewed polio as a shameful reflection of the dirty lifestyle of its victims, leading Carol's parents to silence all issues related to their daughter's disability, a behavior she adopted for most of her life. Pushed by her parents to be extraordinary in order to make up for her impairment, Carol became a successful musician, married, and raised two children. Towards the end of her life, however, she broke her silence and poured out her thoughts, feelings, and memories in a series of diaries. The Polio Journals
explores Carol's inspiring life, probes the changing cultural landscape that impacted her lifelong quest to be accepted by others, and examines the havoc wreaked on families by silencing that which causes shame.
Based on Carol's diaries, The Polio Journals holds a mirror up to society, causing us to confront the uncomfortable fact that we – through our attitudes and assumptions – all too often plant feelings of shame in those who we view as different than ourselves.