Annie Sullivan's Story

Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller - Sarah  Miller

Annie Sullivan was little more than a half-blind orphan with a fiery tongue when she arrived at Ivy Green in 1887.  Desperate for work, she'd taken on a seemingly impossible job--teaching a child who was deaf, blind, and as ferocious as any wild animal. But Helen Keller needed more than a teacher. She needed someone daring enough to work a miracle. And if anyone was a match for Helen, it was the girl they used to call Miss Spitfire.

-- from the book jacket


I really enjoyed reading this book. Of course I've seen the Miracle Worker movie and I knew the basic story about Helen Keller. But I haven't read many books on the subject. This book is told entirely from Annie Sullivan's perspective.  


While I was reading, I could feel how lost and scared Annie was and how much she wanted to help Helen. Annie was so young to be put in that position. And she had such a sad childhood. But she was a strong woman and she managed to find her way. Imagine how hard it must have been for Annie to stand up to Helen's parents, especially her father.


Helen was completely out of control. It wasn't really her fault, her parents felt sorry for her and tried to compensate for her disabilities by giving her everything they could and not disciplining her at all. They fought Annie every step of the way, but finally agreed to let Annie take control. That was the best choice they could have made for their daughter.


The main obstacle for Annie, besides Helen's behavior, was the fact that Helen didn't realize that things had names. She could learn the signs easy enough, but teaching her that the signs actually stood for something was the hard part.


I love the way this book gave me insight into Annie and Helen's struggle. The book was very entertaining and made me feel like I was a part of the whole experience. I found this book in my elementary school library collection. It is more appropriate for the middle/high school collection (because of the reading level) and we will transfer it there next week. Another bonus of the Genre of the Month program, I get to explore each genre individually for an entire month. :)


Recommended to:

Anyone who enjoys historical fiction or is interested in the story of Helen Keller.