This is the diary of Noreen Robertson, an eleven year old girl from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in 1937. The country is in the midst of a polio epidemic. In the heat of the summer Noreen, Edmund, her brother, and Bessie, her best friend, disobey their parents and go to the public swimming pool to cool down. Shortly after this Noreen comes down with polio.
The book follows Noreen's progress with the disease throughout the next year. At first she ends up in the isolation ward in the hospital in Saskatoon. Then after a time of recovery at home, Noreen is sent to a special rehabilitation facility in Regina.
It is a difficult time for Noreen. Bessie, her best friend, abandons her but she discovers a true friend in someone she once thought beneath her. Her new friends at the facility help each other to become strong in spite of the obstacles they have to overcome.
I liked that in spite of everything, Noreen grew in many ways over the year.
Like all the books in the Dear Canada series, the reader gets a personal perspective of history. I was born at the end of the last polio epidemic in Canada so it was interesting to read what it was like before we had vaccines. It was also interesting to read about the controversy surrounding best treatment for survivors.
However, this book didn't excite and wow me in the same way that Exiles from the War by Jean Little, another Dear Canada book and another 2012 Red Cedar Club nominee did. Neither was it half as exciting as The Giant-Slayer by Iain Lawrence, a candidate from last year's club, and a book about polio. I don't think this is a terrible book. For me, it just didn't hold up in comparison with these other books.