Peg is a normal girl twelve years old girl, who is excited about going to the Homecoming Day parade that afternoon. However, in choir, she suddenly falls down, her legs locked. She can barely walk. At lunch, she can’t pick up her drink because her hands shake so hard. A few minutes later, she in bed, with a one hundred two degree fever. From this moment on, Peg’s life is about to take a drastic turn for the worse. She is about to find out she has polio. Small Steps: The year I Got Polio, by Peg Kehret, describes how she overcame polio.
Peg Schulze, her name as a child, lived in the 1930s. During this time polio was a disease that didn’t have a vaccine. Yearly, it would kill and paralyze thousands of people.
Polio is a serious disease that is divided into three types. Type one includes a sore throat and the virus itself. Type two includes a stiff neck and paralysis. Type three causes a person to be extremely weak. In her story, Peg is diagnosed with all three types. In her autobiography, she describes what her life was like when she was constantly moved from the hospital to the rehabilitation center.
In the beginning of this story, Peg isn’t exactly a spoiled girl, but she isn’t a person who appreciates life either. She complains about how much homework she has, her siblings and all the other problems she has, like every other teenage girl. However, after getting paralyzed from the neck down, and meeting girls who are in a worse situation than her. Many of them never have parents who come visit them because they can’t or don’t want to. Some of the other girls don’t have a family. Many of them are also in a difficult situation with their disease. Some of them know they won’t live. Others have been sick for years. All these different stories from her roommates cause her to start looking at life from a different perspective.
In the next couple months, Peg is in the hospital with these girls, getting treatments and hoping to live through that day. Her parents visit as often as they are allowed to. However, Peg is a lucky girl with amazing doctors that take care of her. That, along with her parents’ constant optimism let her get better at an astonishing speed. In fact, she goes from paralyzed from the neck down, to a wheelchair, to walking on sticks, to taking small steps, or actually walking slowly, in months. Her disease takes her on a journey of never giving up and learning to enjoy every second of every moment in life.
Small Steps: The Year I got Polio really emphasizes that life should always be enjoyed and appreciated because the future is unknown. This is a life lesson that one should always remember, no matter when the time period is, or what age they are. This book taught me to appreciate life for what it is, and to always consider oneself lucky to at least be alive. Peg survived her disease and is still alive today, living happily with her family. Her story gives people the courage to do things they would never have thought possible before.