I WILL SING LIFE: Voices from the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp by Larry & Dahlia Lithwick Berger

I WILL SING LIFE: Voices from the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp

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Reminiscent of Jill Krementz's affecting How It Feels to Fight For Your Life (1989), here's a collection of first-person accounts and poetry by campers at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, founded by Paul Newman for seriously ill kids. The poetry program that inspired this book was conducted at the camp two years ago by then-Yale students Berger and Lithwick. After the camp session, the two spent time with each of seven kids in the kids' homes, inviting them to talk about their experiences of life, camp, and being sick (the seven, ranging in age from ages 8 to 17, suffer from various cancers, sickle cell anemia, amputations, and AIDS). It's not surprising that the accounts are moving; what is surprising is the quality of some of the insights and poetry. The children's subjects are sometimes whimsical: ""hair, hair, everywhere""; throwing-up competitions with a friend in the next hospital room; a wonderfully inventive fantasy (""My Transfusion Family"") by Tina Kenney about getting transfused with the qualities of the 40 people who've given this young poet their blood. There are also, of course, many more serious poems. Kenney, a 17-year-old cancer patient, contributes the most consistently striking writing, including (in addition to ""My Transfusion Family"") a meditation on the lonely time in the hospital when visitors have gone home, TVs go off, and patients are alone with their thoughts; and a eulogy to three dead friends whose radiance pervades the writer's life as the stars illuminate the night sky. And there are many other young authors here who speak and write with words and perceptions beyond their years. A remarkable book that uplifts much more than it saddens.

Pub Date: June 26th, 1992
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: "Little, Brown"