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A Nearly Normal Life

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  70 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
In the summer of 1953 Charles Mee was a carefree, athletic boy of fourteen. But after he collapsed during a school dance one night, he was suddenly bedridden, drifting in and out of consciousness, as his body disintegrated into a shadow of its former self. He had been stricken with spinal polio. When Mee emerged from the grip of the disease, he was confronted with a life c ...more
Published December 1st 1999 by Little Brown and Company (first published February 1st 1999)
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Community Reviews

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Mars Prokop
May 09, 2011 Mars Prokop rated it it was amazing
Charles Mee offers a compelling look at the plague of the 1950s- polio- while discussing Americana, communism, popularity and other social graces and foibles.

Although today's literary market is glutted with memoir, Mee's book stands out because his hopefulness is laced with cynism, and the life and recovery he depicts don't beg pity. He wrote, he said, simply to seek understanding and discovery. The memoirs I like to read these days offer a similar juxtaposition of horror and relief, comedy and
Jul 30, 2009 Diana rated it it was ok
This is a book about the author's life after being struck by a debilitating case of polio at the age of 14. Some passages are moving, but it is not consistently engaging. I did learn a good deal about polio from reading the book.
Miss Karen Jean Martinson
Oct 22, 2010 Miss Karen Jean Martinson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: research
I love Chuck Mee! I love Chuck Mee!

I'm working on a production of BIG LOVE right now, so I figured that reading about his life sort of counted as research, although really I just wanted to read about his life (because I don't think that knowing everything about a playwright is necessary when staging the play, even if understanding Mee's sensibility is very helpful).

I just love the way he writes - plays and memoirs both. His descriptions of polio are so descriptive, I felt like I got a true sens
Anne Samachson
Feb 02, 2013 Anne Samachson rated it it was amazing
Until his 14th summer, Charles Mee's world seemed safe and unshakable --- secure in a small Midwestern town, surrounded by a loving family, winning praise for his athletic prowess and on the verge of getting his first kiss. And then, suddenly, everything changed. Mee's exposure to the polio virus didn't just infect him --- it profoundly altered his reality, forever changing his perceptions of himself, his family and the way the world works. In this beautiful, heartbreaking tale, Mee poignantly r ...more
I wanted more from this. The parts that were good were very good--the events in the hospital shortly after his polio diagnosis were very vivid and well-told, and I liked the context provided. I think the problem was, he doesn't remember enough details from the rest of his teenage experience, and he didn't want to pull a James Frey and fictionalize it. I felt I was left with an incomplete picture as a result. Strange to say, fictionalizing the story may have made it more real.
Dennis Gillingham
Feb 20, 2014 Dennis Gillingham rated it really liked it
This book was an emotional read for me and brought back many painful memories that I had no idea existed. It also reminded me of the efforts by my parents to make my world as normal as possible, I am so happy I read this book as a survivor of polio, but do not know how the general public will like or not like the effort.
Apr 26, 2013 Allegra rated it liked it
This book is worth reading if you are familiar with Chuck Mee and his work. I could not imagine it would be an entertaining read for someone who is not a Chuck Mee fan.

However, it also contains a lot of interesting information about polio and valuable highlights from the work of other researchers, philosophers, and writers.
Dec 19, 2009 cassie rated it it was ok
Shelves: for-book-club
I think this book has good intentions, but it would rather bore you with its incessant rattling of Polio trivia and 1950s nostalgia. If Mee had stuck with a singular focus of his book, it would have been more engaging. Instead, it is schizophrenic and surprisingly surface-level. Advice: skip it and Google polio.
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