An affecting memoir of the year professional photographer Busselle spent documenting--and becoming emotionally involved with--patients and staff at the Wassaic Developmental Center, an institution for the ""developmentally disabled"" in Upstate New York. Busselle avoids sentimentalizing Wassaic's ""clients,"" admitting straight-off her own fascinated revulsion when she first saw these unusual, retarded, often physically deformed people. ""A boy with an enormous head lay on a bed. . .His lips pulled up over yellow horse teeth"": Thus commences the author's initiation into Wassaic, a traumatic day that sees her unable to take a photograph and then escaping with great relief to her healthy daughter, Katrina. As winter passes into spring, however, Busselle slowly learns to cherish the humanity of Wassaic's patients: 12-year-old Emily, with the mental capacity of a two-year-old, earns a special place in her heart; others--including Gregory, unable to break out of his own mysterious world; and John Doe #11, who communicates through rhythmical mutterings--emerge as distinct, human people beneath Busselle's compassionate gaze. A poignant Christmas celebration (the decorations are hung high to keep the kids from grabbing them: ""That's what Christmas means in this room, something silver, glittery, and twinkling, too far up too reach"") closes out Busselle's year at Wassaic. Hugely honest and carefully, attentively observed and written; a humane, eyes-open account of people too often kept behind closed doors.