In this riveting, beyond-belief true story from the author of The Borden Murders, meet the five children who captivated the entire world.
When the Dionne Quintuplets were born on May 28, 1934, weighing a grand total of just over 13 pounds, no one expected them to live so much as an hour. Overnight, Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Émilie, and Marie Dionne mesmerized the globe, defying medical history with every breath they took. In an effort to protect them from hucksters and showmen, the Ontario government took custody of the five identical babies, sequestering them in a private, custom-built hospital across the road from their family--and then, in a stunning act of hypocrisy, proceeded to exploit them for the next nine years. The Dionne Quintuplets became a more popular attraction than Niagara Falls, ogled through one-way screens by sightseers as they splashed in their wading pool at the center of a tourist hotspot known as Quintland. Here, Sarah Miller reconstructs their unprecedented upbringing with fresh depth and subtlety, bringing to new light their resilience and the indelible bond of their unique sisterhood.
Beginning two days after their premature birth in rural Ontario on May 28, 1934, "the lives of the Dionne quintuplets were inextricably bound with the press," asserts Miller (Caroline: Little House, Revisited), whose headline-style chapter titles reinforce that point in this compelling account. Together, the five babies weighed only 13 pounds, 6 ounces, and their desperate parents, Oliva and Elzire Dionne, traded privacy for critical necessities: breast milk and incubators. Those rushing to provide support simultaneously saved the quintuplets' lives and wreaked emotional havoc upon the family. Miller details the efforts of Dr. Dafoe, the local medical practitioner; the nurses he chose to keep the infants alive; Dr. Blatz, who attended to the sisters' emotional and mental development; and the government of Ontario, which tried to protect the family from being exploited by unscrupulous Americans seeking to profit from the story. The Dionne parents' rights to raise their children were continually overruled, and the physical separation of the quintuplets from the rest of their family until age nine produced lifelong emotional dysfunction. Miller presents multiple viewpoints with sensitivity, enmeshing the reader in the Dionnes' lives so successfully that it is impossible not to feel the tragedy of the quintuplets' lives. Black-and-white family photos and notes further expand this eye-opening, thoroughly researched title. Ages 12 up.