Monday, June 3, 2013
This book is one of the nonfiction summer reading choices at my library this year, so I thought I'd take a look. I don't review much nonfiction here but wow, I really enjoyed this one. I've read a lot about Helen Keller over the years, but not so much about her teacher, particularly Annie Sullivan's early life, which was incredibly difficult. She was a child of Irish immigrants and grew up in extreme poverty in Massachusetts. She was physically abused by her father, and lost much of her vision after contracting an eye disease called trachoma. After her mother died, her father abandoned her and her two siblings, and she ended up in a poorhouse, many of whose inmates were mentally ill, diseased, and violent.
How this child ended up with an education, not to mention the creative thinking skills and determination to help a child as difficult as Helen Keller is an extraordinary tale. This book's targeted audience is the younger set (I'd say starting at 5th or 6th grade), but it certainly held my attention and is a great way for people of any age to learn more about these two extraordinary people. I loved the inclusion of so many images from the time as well as text from letters, diaries, and quotations from people who knew her and Helen. It's not always a happy story, but it's a real one, and an inspiring one, too.
Helen's Eyes: A Photobiography of Annie Sullivan by Marfe Ferguson Delano (National Geographic Society, 2008)