Reviews

Slow Dance

Patty Osborne

Slow Dance (Knopf) by Bonnie Sherr Klein also kept me from sleeping, mostly because I couldn’t put it down. When I saw Klein’s photo on the cover I realized I’d seen her around at literary events and I was interested in this tall, self-confident woman who seemed to know everyone. At forty-six, Klein had two strokes; the second one nearly killed her. Ten years later she uses two canes to walk and a scooter named Gladys to run. This book is the story of her strokes and her rehabilitation—the story of an ordinary person facing her own prejudices as she rediscovers her place in the world, this time as a disabled person. Persimmon Blackbridge, who didn’t know Klein before her stroke, collaborated on the book, which probably accounts for the balanced picture we get. Klein’s written recollections are broken up with excerpts from her journal, comments from her friends and relatives, and quotations from her medical charts. In italicized sections, Klein looks back on some of her early beliefs and attitudes: “Who wrote those journals? When is she going to wise up? ... I want to place warning signs with flashing lights around all the frightened stereotypes of disabled people that litter my journal pages: Danger—Bad Attitude.” This is not, as Klein herself puts it, a Triumph over Tragedy story. There’s no Hollywood ending where the hero rises above adversity so that everyone can get back to normal. Normal, for Klein and her family, is different now, and this book helps us understand that.

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