Poster Child

PosterChildBloomsbury just published Poster Child, a memoir by Gotham Fiction and Memoir teacher Emily Rapp.  The book tells Emily’s story of living with a prosthetic foot, which leads to such adventures as being a poster child for the March of Dimes and struggling with a “hydraulic malfunction” while on a Fulbright scholarship in Korea. Here’s what Publisher’s Weekly says about the book: “Though she demonstrates daunting reserves of pluck, she isn't afraid to hold the sugarcoating and confront the irresolvable dilemmas. Her piercing metaphors and sudden, unexpected jabs of humor enhance the candid appeal of this ‘underdog’ tale.”

If that’s got your interest up, here’s a passage from Poster Child:

Before I left the hospital in my body cast and returned to preschool, Ms. Sharon searched through her supply closet and found an old walker that looked like pipes that had been soldered together. “That thing was impenetrable,” Mom tells me. “Like a metal tank. If some kid ran into you, they’d probably regret it.” Dad used the bicycle seat from my first makeshift walker and covered it in a new layer of sheepskin so my butt wouldn’t get sore from so much sitting.

The pipe walker, or “the tank,” as we called it, was great for protection from other kids who might collide with me during the chaos of preschool, but it was so heavy that I could not move it alone. The teacher or several kids together had to push me around the schoolroom.

At home, Mom gave me a small, round platform with wheels attached. Lying on my plastered stomach, I pushed myself forward and backward with my hands. I looked like a white plaster beetle with my back legs immobilized and stiff and my hands scurrying like small feet along the ground. I felt mobile once again after the disappointment of not getting the leg and being forced to move around in the tank while wearing another body cast. A few hours of fast forward motion across the kitchen linoleum made the situation feel more bearable.

The best part of the scooter was being able to play with Andy again, not just indoors but outside, too. After a snowfall, he suggested projects that we could both do at ground level; we built miniature snowmen and shallow forts in the snow. Then one day he dared me to a race — he would crawl, and I would push. We weren’t even supposed to be outside without supervision — but we didn’t care. It was a beautiful November day. The sunshine was luminous against the white, melting snow, and the wet ground smelled fragrant, almost spring-like.

When Mom thought we were napping, Andy quietly crept outside and I followed on the scooter. We started the race on the long concrete walk that ran the length of our downward-sloping backyard and had just been cleared that morning of fresh snow. In the middle of my descent, I hit a hidden patch of ice and the scooter slid out from underneath me. I skid face first on the concrete, knocking out a tooth. Catapulting into the alley, I bumped one of the pins and landed on my back. The force of the jostled pin hurt so terribly that I threw up on the front of the cast.

Stunned, I looked up into the branches of the snow-covered trees. Wet snow crystals dropped on my face when the wind shook the branches. Andy was screaming my name, but his voice disappeared into the cold ground. I could taste blood and feel it, fast and wet, filling my mouth. I heard Mom’s shouts and hurried steps down the path. I wanted to move, but I could not. Sun moved over the snowy branches, and then the whole sky exploded into a glowing, sparkling white.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *
Copyright 2006© Emmily Rapp.  Reprinted by permission of Bloomsbury USA.  All rights reserved.  To learn more about Emily and her book, visit