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by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

August 13, 2022

Helen Keller in Love by Rosie Sultan ~ Review

by Donna Huber

Since watching The Miracle Worker in school, I have been fascinated with the life of Helen Keller. Following an illness as an infant, she became blind, deaf, and non-speaking. She lived at the turn of the 20th century when people with disabilities were often hidden away. The Miracle Worker, which was more about her teacher and companion Anne Sullivan, only covers a short period of Keller's childhood. So I knew little about her adult life. Helen Keller in Love is about her adult life.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of biographical fiction novel Helen Keller in Love by Rosie Sultan
April 2012; Viking; 978-0670023493
audio, ebook, print (256 pages); biographical fiction

I received a print copy of Helen Keller in Love when it was first published in 2012. I tried a few times to read the book but I just couldn't get into it. I recently noticed that my digital library had a copy of the audiobook, so I decided to give it a try and I was able to finish the book.

Helen Keller in Love is biographical fiction. Sultan took a relatively unknown moment in Keller's life and weaves a story. When I checked some of the events and information against Sullivan's and Keller's Wikipedia pages, the information and timeline didn't always jive. I wish Sultan had included an author's note in her book to discuss the historical accuracy of her work and the research she did.

However, there is a line or two in Keller's Wikipedia page about Peter Fagen, a journalist who became Keller's personal secretary when Sullivan contracted tuberculosis and needed a break to recover. Apparently, Keller and Fagen fell in love and planned to secretly elope without Keller's family knowing. Just like today, the actions of public figures rarely remain secret and her family discovers the intention and puts an end to it.

Sultan's story imagines what might have developed during the short-lived relationship. There are a number of interesting themes around being a woman in the early 1900s as well as disabilities. The book would make for an interesting book club read with plenty to discuss.

It is written in first person with Keller narrating the story. It works for the most part but there were a few descriptions of people, things, and actions that Helen herself wouldn't have known. It does give an intimate look at Helen's thoughts and I liked it being in first person.

There was a lot I didn't know about Helen Keller as an adult - like she graduated from Radcliffe College, she met several presidents, etc.

If you are interested in knowing more about Helen Keller but prefer fiction to reading nonfiction, then this is an interesting story that will give you glimpses into her life.

Buy Helen Keller in Love at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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