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The miracle & tragedy of the Dionne quintuplets
2019
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Summary
In this riveting, beyond-belief true story from the author of The Borden Murders, meet the five children who captivated the entire world.

When the Dionne Quintuplets were born on May 28, 1934, weighing a grand total of just over 13 pounds, no one expected them to live so much as an hour. Overnight, Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Émilie, and Marie Dionne mesmerized the globe, defying medical history with every breath they took. In an effort to protect them from hucksters and showmen, the Ontario government took custody of the five identical babies, sequestering them in a private, custom-built hospital across the road from their family--and then, in a stunning act of hypocrisy, proceeded to exploit them for the next nine years. The Dionne Quintuplets became a more popular attraction than Niagara Falls, ogled through one-way screens by sightseers as they splashed in their wading pool at the center of a tourist hotspot known as Quintland. Here, Sarah Miller reconstructs their unprecedented upbringing with fresh depth and subtlety, bringing to new light their resilience and the indelible bond of their unique sisterhood.
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In 1934, a set of quintuplets were born to Oliva and Elzire Dionne. Miraculously, the five tiny babies lived until that point, no other quintuplets had survived after birth. The Dionne Quintuplets were such a medical oddity that they soon became the center of a media frenzy and, unsurprisingly, deep controversy. Miller (The Borden Murders, 2016) offers another impeccably researched look into a cultural phenomenon, digging into the heart of a story surrounded by rumor and exaggeration. Relying on first-person accounts, journals, and transcripts, she uses direct quotes to great effect when describing the quintuplets, their parents' struggle to retain any sort of authority over their care, the country doctor who insisted on government oversight of their livelihood, the many child-rearing experts who shaped the five young girls' isolated environment, and, of course, the quintuplets themselves, who were raised apart from their family in the public eye. In many ways, this is a terribly sad story, but Miller resists sensationalizing, often emphasizing the necessity of sifting through exaggerated journal entries and reporting to find a kernel of the truth. Miller raises plenty of questions about child celebrity, government accountability, and journalistic integrity, and while some remain unanswered, there's still plenty to ponder in this thorough, fascinating deep dive into the lives of five girls who captured the attention of millions. Photographs and extensive source notes round out this stellar work of nonfiction.--Sarah Hunter Copyright 2019 Booklist
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