KAREN ANN: The Quinlans Tell Their Story by Joseph & Julia with Phyllis Battelle Quinlan
Kirkus Star

KAREN ANN: The Quinlans Tell Their Story

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The directness and composure of the Quinlans throughout their ongoing ordeal have been exemplary, and this version of their fight for Karen Ann's ""return to God with grace and dignity"" reflects the same sober demeanor as their other public expressions. Found comatose more than two years ago from causes never established, she was hospitalized and sustained by life-support apparatus--a standard procedure which the family, watching her hopeless deterioration, ultimately challenged in a landmark court case. Incorporating Karen's teenage statements about dying young and making history, the grievous progression from medical enigma to cause cÉlèbre is detailed by the family and a few friends through observations arranged to indicate the chronology: gradual recognition of her condition, trial balloons from the Vatican, political waffling at the hospital, media intrusions, the court case (lost; won on appeal), and subsequent proceedings. Successfully weaned from the respirator, Karen was transferred to a nursing home which had altered its policy in order to admit her. The sleazy aspects--life threats during the ambulance ride, reporters disguised as clergymen, offers from faith healers and high-paying photographers--are handled briskly and without rancor; only some hospital personnel and the court-appointed guardian are criticized, and even then the Quinlans stick to substantive matters. As their devoted volunteer attorney says, ""Religion has fortified us all,"" and indeed there's little else here to account for such unassailable constancy. Readers looking for etiological speculations, a brief on right-to-die choices, or the gruesome particulars of Karen's physical decline must draw their own conclusions from the unaffected narrative and consult those not represented here, for the Quinlans are presenting a personal record rather than a platform.

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 1977
Publisher: Doubleday