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Karen

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  996 ratings  ·  77 reviews
"There was something special about my child... I knew it from the moment she was born... A minute morsel, she weighed under two pounds, and measured nine inches from the tip of her tiny head to her infinitesimal toes.... I lay back still, bathed in happiness. It was like a brittle shell, this happiness, and I felt that motion or sound might shatter it.... I could still fee ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 286 pages
Published August 15th 1980 by Laurel Leaf (first published 1952)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,492)
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Lisa Vegan
Jul 20, 2007 Lisa Vegan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoy biographies, those interested in disabilities
I reread this book multiple times. It’s the true story of a girl (with cerebral palsy) and her family, written by the mother, who knows how to tell an interesting story. This was in the era before CP was easily diagnosed and well before the Americans with Disabilities Rights Act. I found it inspiring.
Kate
Aug 09, 2008 Kate added it
In middle school, during my melodrama phase, I loved this book. Karen is a girl who had cerebral palsy in the 1950s and 1960s when her parents pretty much had to make up treatment, and one doctor told them to put Karen in an institution and let her die. The mother started organizing around CP. As a child I remember thinking that they seem very close and loving. There were also very devote Pre-Vatican II Catholics, which kind of fascinated me.

I re-read this as an adult and it's a little creepy. I
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Thannasset
This is a biography of her daughter, and in places almost an autobiography, by a woman with a severely handicapped daughter.
It was intensely engaging to me then, and holds up now to re-reading.
Elizabeth
This book, along with the sequel (With Love from Karen) were assigned reading in my nursing school pediatric rotation. It had never occurred to me to not accept handicapped people in life - in my grade school there were twin sisters affected by CP and severe learning disabilities that were simply a part of life. So were the children with residual damage from polio and partially deaf from ear infections. They were just part of my life. When I discovered that parents had to fight to get some educa ...more
Cathy
This dog-eared book that I read sometime in the late 1970's continues to be a perennial favorite. Written by the mother who helped form the Cerebral Palsy Association, it tells of the struggles of parents faced with an exceptional child trapped in a disabled body and doctors who recommended "putting her away" and "forgetting" about her. The struggles and hopes of this family will make you laugh, cry and beleive in the human spirit. You don't have to be Catholic to read this, but it helps. This l ...more
Alison
I read this back in the 6th grade. I didn't read much then, but this book had a huge impact on me, such that I still remember it today. It is the story of a girl growing up with cerebral palsy, all that her mother did for her, and the success of her life.
Carrie
Feb 16, 2009 Carrie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Catholic families, families with disabled children, looking for light reading
Recommended to Carrie by: my mother
Such a lovely story about a family who overcame what seemed insurmountable, buoyed by love and their faith in God. You will come to love Karen and the rest of the Killilea family.
Homeschoolmama
This is one of those classic books that deserve a 5 star review. For the inspiring story that it is, for the superb writing, the humor, grit, honesty and the history behind it as well. Marie Killilea tells the story of her daughter Karen, who was born with cerebral palsy in the early 1940's, a time when PT and OT services were virtually non-existent. The story includes anecdotes, conversations, struggles, and also a parallel story of how Mrs. Killilea helped found the National United Cerebral Pa ...more
Cora Lee
I loved this book when I was a child. It opened my eyes to a world outside my own and taught me about compassion and determination to overcome obstacles. I reread it almost every time I went home from college.
Linda
I'm actually reading this for the third time since I was in junior high school. I love the family, sophisticated New York suburbanites and deeply devout Roman Catholics. Mrs. Killilea was a force of nature to accomplish what she did, all disguised as a self-deprecating housewife. (Everytime she lit up another cigarette,though, I wanted to knock it out of her hand and tell her she would end up dying of lung cancer later in life.) Mrs. and Mrs. K remained deeply in love despite raising five childr ...more
Lisa
I read (and have reread over and over) this when I was young and it sent me on a journey towards my career. I think all parents of a child with a disability should read it because, while it is outdated, the fact that Karen's Mom spent every day helping Karen succeed-never gets old. When I meet parents with the mind-set of Marie Killilea- their children always are the ones that gain the most skills and succeed in life.
Laurie Gold
After seeing a goodreads friend also loved Emmy Keeps a Promise, I decided to add some books I read and loved as a child. This is one of them. I strongly recommend it. I actually hunted down a copy a few years ago and it sits proudly on my bookshelves today.
Terri
What a wonderful book! Published in 1952, a mother's recounting of the birth of her daughter, Karen,who is diagnosed with CP. Very uplifting and energizing. Wish I had found it years ago.
Wicca
A step back into the 1040's when there was no help or knowledge in the medical world when a child is born with Cerebral Palsy.
The true story of a devout Catholic family - and what they do and how they live - as they raise Karen and raise awareness of CP.
The family all come to life, they are vivid. The book is funny and sometimes so poignant and sad.
The mother wrote the book, and hence, the perfection of everyone and how well everyone gets along is probably a tad overdone - but still a good read.
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Elizabeth
This is a great book. It's well-written, has a sly, somewhat snarky sense of humor that I love in books written many years ago, and is an excellent memoir of early treatment of cerebral palsy in the US.

Much, if not all, of the treatment is outmoded, but I enjoyed reading everything about it--of course, I'm a pediatric PT, so that probably explains it. I picked this up from my Grammy's house many years ago, though, long before I was actually a PT, and still liked it. Those neck-to-toe braces? Go
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Liz
I read this as a child, though not nearly as many times as I read the sequel, "With Love From Karen." It's eye-opening in many ways--and appalling, as it details the horrendous way the disabled were treated in this country in previous years. I have friends with cerebral palsy, and the older of them can certainly relate to that treatment. Fortunately, I believe the younger ones can not. We've made some progress, and the Killileas are owed a great debt of thanks for that progress.
Lisa
I read this book several times in my teens, but this was the first time I've picked it up in a long time. I still love it just as much now, especially after the experience of being a special ed teacher and working with a girl who has cerebral palsy. Marie's writing style is fantastic - fun, chatty, and wise. Yes, this book can be a bit heavy on Catholicism, but it's okay - faith is what helped this family cope with insurmountable odds. It was a way to explain what can't be explained - sometimes ...more
Jane Gardner
A wonderful book. Karen's family was determined to give her as normal and full a life as possible, back in the day when a disabled child was routinely "put away" in an asylum. Karen's optimism was truly inspiring, as was her parents'.
Christie
As a mother of a child with cerebral palsy, the words, THANK YOU, aren't enough. My daughter was born in 2003 with right hemiplegia. The road you paved for us has been exponentially smoother because of your limitless perseverance and dedication to spreading awareness about cerebral palsy, a more common condition than most people realize.
Kristie
I read this book when I was in my early teens.It is one that comes to mind as I work with my students and why I seek ways or even others to help kids live to their fullest potential.
Judy
I read this book years ago, possibly when it first came out. I loved it then and am glad to see that people still enjoy it. I'm surprised that it doesn't fell out-dated.
Anna
This book is so very touching. I read it 'back in the day' when it came out in a Reader's Digest Condensed. There's a sequel and it's good as well.
Holly
Read this in grade school and have kept a copy since then. I didn't know anyone with a disability really, so this definitely broadened my horizons.
Lynn
I read and re-read this book so many times when I was a kid. I am so glad to see that others loved it as much as I did. It was so inspiring.
Shelley
One of two or three exceptions to my avoidance of books about kids with special needs. This one, I first read back in junior high. I don't always like or agree with their family beliefs (that disabilities are a gift from God because he only makes those he loves best suffer, for example), and often the family seems too good to be true. But then there's the humor and sarcasm and the familiar fatigue and fear between the lines. I suspect I'd have enjoyed being friends with Marie. And there's no den ...more
Akeating2003
This book was sad and uplifting at the same time. The family was amazingly strong and you can't help cheering Karen along
Gina Giuliano
Aug 01, 2007 Gina Giuliano rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people interested in children with special needs
I first read this book when I was about 12. At the time, it interested me, but I didn't really identify with the family. I decided to re-read it as an adult. I felt differently about it the second time around. As a kid, I imagined Karen (who was born with CP) as my age - because in the book, she was. Now I realize that she was born in 1940, and by the time I read the book, she was already an adult. I also missed the fact that her mother had such a huge role in raising awareness and access to ser ...more
Carol
I read this in high school and still remember loving it. I would love to find a copy and read it again!
Anmiryam
How I loved this book as a child. Read it repeatedly. Read the sequel. I wonder what ever happened to Karen?
Nancy Delain
I loved this book when I read it as a kid. My copy is lost in time; I'm looking to replace it.
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Founder of the Cerebral Palsy Association.

* Marie Lyons Killilea was born June 28, 1913 in New York City to Tom and Marie Powers Lyons.

* Her father was a sportswriter for the New York Sun and later became co-owner of a Wall Street brokerage firm.

* Attended Mount St. Vincent Academy in Riverdale. Attended the Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School.

* Married James Killilea on July 25, 1933. Primary
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More about Marie Killilea...
With Love from Karen Wren Newf treasure on the hill Reader's Digest Condensed Books, Spring 1953 Edition, Volume #13

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