Not a Poster Child
Living Well with a Disability
Polio is back in the news. Almost forgotten for decades in the US, it has been brought back into the spotlight by the anti-vaxxer movement—but for millions around the world, especially those who have residual or late effects of polio, this virus has never been old news.
Francine Falk-Allen was only three years old when she contracted polio and temporarily lost the ability to stand and walk. Here, she tells the story of how a toddler learned grown-up lessons too soon; a schoolgirl tried her best to be a “normie,” on into young adulthood; and a woman finally found her balance, physically and spiritually. In lucid, dryly humorous prose, she also explores how her disability has affected her choices in living a fulfilling (and amusing) life in every area—relationships, career, religion (or not), athleticism, artistic expression, and aging, to name a few. A clear-eyed examination of living with a handicap, Not a Poster Child is one woman’s story of finding her way to a balanced life—one with a little cheekiness and a lot of joy.
Praise for Not a Poster Child
“Overall, this is a frank, no-nonsense account of living with a disability, edged with a razor-sharp wit… Bold, charming, and inspirational.”
“After thirty-five-plus years in publishing, this is the best personal manuscript I have ever encountered. [Falk-Allen has] a muscular style like Dave Eggers. [She has] made early childhood as compelling as Robert Louis Stevenson did. A strong, distinctive voice, coupled with an important story to tell.”
“An engrossing memoir, a fascinating and well-researched tale of the experiences of so many children with disabilities… Falk-Allen pays particular attention to how her disability added to the complexity of growing up and [into] adulthood. She gives the reader an insider’s perspective on [being handicapped] – family, dating, acceptance and doctors. This is a story of perseverance, creativity, and fortitude [in] crafting a successful, satisfying life.”
“Not a Poster Child is a candid memoir that reminds us just how essential it is to find wholehearted engagement in life, no matter how difficult our path. It is eye-opening about the misinformation, types and treatments of polio. While it chronicles the author’s challenges of growing up with a physical disability, her gifts of approaching life with humor, openness and a feisty spirit can embolden us all.”
“With plainspoken eloquence, Falk-Allen brings to life the rich palette of emotions of her lifelong battles with polio – from its heartbreaks to its triumphs. Funny, inspiring, and bitingly honest, her book shines a new light on that eternal human question: how can we make the most of our lives?”
“A beautifully written book about loss, pain and finding the will to forge ahead. Falk-Allen writes openly and courageously. A first-rate memoir on all accounts.”
“Not a Poster Child is a memoir of wit, unstinting honesty and compassion… a story of a woman with disabilities which fade as she confronts the essential questions of how to make a life. In the end the reader… has a friend and confidant.”
“Not a Poster Child places the reader inside the body of polio – and into a world of surprising expectations. The view from Falk-Allen’s captivating memoir envelopes unexpected family dynamics and intimate insights only a writer who has ‘lived the life’ can bring to the page. As the daughter of a polio victim, this book brought me closer to my mother’s experience and into a reality few have walked.”
“Reading Not a Poster Child was one of those experiences where you suddenly realize you didn’t know how much you didn’t know. Not only did it pull back the curtain for me on what it’s like to grow up handicapped, it also gave me deeper understanding of an old friend.”