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Rita Sandford Author Interview

To Paddle My Feet is an inspirational memoir detailing the obstacles in your life and how you overcame them. Why was this an important book for you to write?

My earlier life had remained hidden for many years. I wanted readers to know how difficult life was like in the 1950’s. No-one realised the tough time I had while in hospital, made to walk to fit into society. I wanted to tell readers what it was like for disabled people during those times and how long it took for disabled people to be accepted into society. It is easy for today’s generation to think that it had always been as it is today. I was never allowed to talk about the death of my mother and my brother. I felt as though they had been lost and forgotten. I wanted to talk about them in my book, to let readers know that they had existed and were part of my life. I feel as though they have now been recognised.

What is one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you were younger?

Love was something not mentioned or demonstrated in my early years. My father and stepmother did care for me and did their best to give me a better life but if someone had shown affection and expressed love I might had found life easier.

What is one thing that you hope readers take away from your book?

I want to readers to believe however difficult life is, you can strive and succeed.

Do you see anything differently now that you wrote this book?

Writing this book has made me re-evaluate my own feelings on my life. I can be allowed to have negative and positive thoughts about the things that happened to me. I have a great sense of achievement that I actually wrote down all my memories and produced a book which will record my life forever.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

One September day in 1955, Rita’s life changed forever when polio struck her family. She was five years old. Rita became totally paralysed; her brother was partially affected, and she lost her mother to the virus.

The hospital became her home, and the ward sister her mother. Hospital life was harsh in the 1950s: crying was a punishable offence and meant solitary confinement. Rita struggled to walk again using leg callipers and a spinal brace, and later became mobile with the use of a wheelchair.

Finally, she had to learn to live with her own family again, and with a new mother that she didn’t know. She tried to fit in, often feeling trapped at home while the family led busy lives.

After a time at boarding school, Rita changed; she became positive, and strove to become fully independent. She went on to travel abroad extensively with her wheelchair.

This book is about Rita’s early life and how she achieved her dreams.

To Paddle My Feet

To Paddle My Feet by [Rita Sandford]

To Paddle My Feet by Rita Sandford is a heartfelt autobiography, portraying the author’s emotional yet highly inspiring journey towards achieving her dreams. The attack of Poliovirus snatched away Rita’s normal life– she lost her mother, became disabled, and was sent to the hospital to recover. Life in the hospital was harder than one could imagine– the harsh treatments meted out to the patients had a deep impact on the life of young Rita. Even though her feet barely had any power to move, she was expected to walk with the help of some assistance, which became all the more painful for her. 

At home, her life underwent a major change, as her father had remarried. She struggled to fit in with a family that was emotionally unavailable for her. When she lost her brother, she had none to console her tender heart. After her boarding school ended, her new-found zeal led her to find an independent life. She began living alone and went on to travel the world in her wheelchair– Australia, Africa, South America, and many other places. 

Author Rita Sandford’s story is a powerful commentary on how people with physical disabilities were treated in the 1950s. They were ousted out of society, with little compassion shown towards them. 

This autobiographical account can be read as a coming-of-age story, of a girl who learns to cope with her impairment, and how she goes on to live the life she had dreamt of, despite all odds. The linear plotline is simple to follow. The author uses simple and lucid language that kept me interested, if not hooked.

Besides her battle with the world, the book also depicts her struggle to overcome the inner demons. Her indomitable spirit allowed her to break away from the memories of a disturbed childhood, accept herself as she truly is, and pushed her to not lose sight of her dreams and aspirations. 

The author has a powerful voice all throughout the story that vividly illustrates her life before the reader’s eyes, but I think that more gripping storytelling would have allowed the plot to achieve greater heights, as it deserves. 

To Paddle My Feet is a heartfelt memoir that is ultimately uplifting and encouraging. This is a fantastic book to read in these especially difficult times as it will provide some comfort and with  a profound journey that delivers a sincere message. 

Pages: 309 | ASIN: B085TLFL4B

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