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Miller, Sarah. The Miracle & Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets.

Miller, Sarah. The Miracle & Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets. Schwartz & Wade, 2019. 320p. $17.99. 978-1-5247-1381-2. Table of Contents. Photos. Bibliography. Source Notes. Index.

5Q * 5P * J * S

Born two months premature into a struggling Ontario farm family which already had five children--the Dionne quintuplets miraculously survived. In the midst of the Depression, the world embraced their story as a beacon of hope and rushed to pay tribute to their simple country doctor, Allan Dafoe. But the combination of the family's need and the public's enthusiasm created a lasting tension which divided the existing family and the quints. The five girls became a profit-generating tourist attraction, exhibited daily through what was supposed to be one-way glass, their weights publicized even in adolescence, their personalities analyzed in magazines. Their parents felt ashamed and humiliated; and their siblings saw themselves as "second-class citizens." Oliva-Edouard, the father, sued Dr. Dafoe; and Mrs. Dionne warred with the nurses. Yvonne, Annette, Cecile, Emilie, and Marie took comfort in their indelible bond but also hungered to be seen as individuals instead of a public experiment in child psychology. Eventually the family discord was revealed.

The story is fascinating and well-told. Miller negotiates the multiple viewpoints with a clear eye and extensive research. She treats the charges of molestation evenhandedly, tracing the ebb and flow of public opinion, as well as the battles among the caretakers, the parents, the siblings, and the quints. A generous selection of photographs draws the reader even closer to these five girls, allowing them to be seen as individuals and to learn how their lives turned out. The book satisfies on both counts. The title rings true; It was a miracle, with tragedy intertwined, perhaps inevitably from the beginning.--Katherine Noone

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Author:Noone, Katherine
Publication:Voice of Youth Advocates
Date:Aug 1, 2019
Words:289
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