Dear Peg Kehret,
You have written so many books, and I've read a lot of them. But one stood out to me, Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio, has inspired me so much for a long time. I connected to this book like I had written it; I knew exactly what you meant when you wrote about what you had to go through to fight your battle of Polio. My Aunt has had Polio since she was three years old, and she and I are very close, so I understood your book completely.
I loved your writing style as well, humorous yet also serious. I have read the book over and over and each time I feel like I connect to the characters in your book more and more. I loved how you described yourself, stubborn; like me.
I have to confess that I have read your book over 20 times in the past two years. Really. I feel like each time I read it I learn something new. I remember almost every sentence in your book, every quote, every event. You can call it stalking. I call it: Connection. In fact, I feel so much like the main character, without Polio of course, it's almost disturbing. The main character and I both love books and our family, we both are very stubborn and hard working, and we have the same sense of humor. Oh, and the big one: you wanted to be a writer, and I want to be a writer, and now you ARE a writer. Even with having to go through Polio and still reaching your dream inspires me so much, it makes me feel like tomorrow I could get a coma and in ten years wake up and be a writer.
After I read your book the first time, I could suddenly see things differently. Whenever I would do anything that reminded me of your book I would think 'Peg would've done that'. It was like I actually knew you and we were the best of friends. So then I read your book again, and paid closer attention to the details. After that the connections starting clicking everywhere.. .and I mean everywhere. Whether I would be with my friends, at school, or even at a movie, I would think of some connection to my real life that was also in your book.
While I was reading this book, I felt that someone had written about me, that it was my biography. Had you been my age right now and went to my school, I'm sure we would be best friends at this very moment. The way you described things and your characters was so extraordinary. I felt like the parents where like mine, and they friends you had were like mine, even the personality you had was like mine.
The main character was overall strong, stubborn, and determined. But I remember some parts that were her weak moments. And who wouldn't be weak if you were in a hospital for seven months in a wheelchair and daily painful exercises? I know I would, which makes the connection to me and the main character even stronger.
When I was younger, I didn't know what Polio was, or why my Aunt would never be able to walk again. But then in fifth grade, my classmates and I did a "Famous Americans" project where we had to make a five-minute speech on a famous American. I
was Jonas Salk, (A man, yes. I wore a nude-colored swim cap with a little wig, in case you were wondering.) the inventor of the Poliomyelitis vaccine. In doing this project, I chose Small Steps: The Year I got Polio as a guideline to help me with the project. Right away I was addicted to it. Of all the other research books, websites, and googling I had done, your book helped me out the best by far. Suddenly, I understood firsthand what my Aunt has been going through her entire life. It was like a door that had been locked suddenly was swinging open, ready for me to jump right over the threshold.
I not only learned so much about Polio, you, and my Aunt in this book, but me as well. I thought 'This could've been me' had I been born 50 years earlier. I thought that I could've been in a wheelchair right now and I learned that I'm lucky, to not only be healthy but to have read this book, as it set a new experience for me and let me see the world in a new light. Thank you so much. You have inspired me to not only reach my dreams, but no matter what obstacles I have in life, still go for those dreams.
Sincerely, Annalisa Donahey