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BREATH BY BREATH by Anna Marie Laforest is a daughters memoir of care-giving to a mother with deep limb and respiratory paralysis, from 1954 to 1967 in Detroit. At the age of four, she walks through a hospital basement of rubber pipes, duct tape, and oil to take the service elevator up to the polio floor, and later must battle strange housekeepers, inept nurses, breathing machines and suction apparatus. She helps her mother draw on her lipstick in preparation for visits from a dwindling number of friends, including a brainwashed priest. In a contrast of beauty and frustrations, the girl dreams under the pear tree in her grandmothers garden, tears at her clothes and bites washcloths, but also bites backyard tomatoes, tasting the metallic ring of city earth. She makes up fairy stories for her little sister and finds a landing place for her imagination in the white lace and silver paten liturgy of the church. It is a childhood of deciding what is of value in a world where ones mother would die any day. It is a fearful and tangible dance with death.