Hornbook Review of Chasing Orion

During the height of the 1950s polio epidemic, Georgie obsesses about the disease. She knows the symptoms (all three stages); tallies the number of new cases in her hometown; and notes the deaths. Imagine her fascination when her family moves and she discovers that her new teenage neighbor, Phyllis, is in an iron lung. At first Georgie is curious, then she's thrilled to be part of Phyllis's environment-one in which this beautiful girl manipulates a set of mirrors that define her line of vision and her world. Georgie builds dioramas of miniature scenes as a hobby, while her brother Emmett, an amateur stargazer, studies the night skies. In a powerful series of metaphors, Georgie crafts her worlds, Emmett observes the universe, and Phyllis is trapped in hers. But is Phyllis a helpless prisoner, or is she like a spider at the center of a web reaching out for prey? Does she want more from Georgie than friendship and more from Emmett than mere flirtation? Georgie wonders, and with a voice slightly older than her eleven years, debates scientific progress and questions whether an iron lung saves or traps a life. While the historical setting may be foreign to today's readers, Georgie's loneliness and her search for answers are universal.


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