As a five-year-old, Shelley Fraser is known for mischief.
On Halloween in l949, she fancies her brother's devil costume and persuades her mother to hem it up for her. But her plan to scare the total baloney out of the neighbor's babies backfires.
At kindergarten, she throws a six-year-old birthday party never to be forgotten, falls in love at juice time, and learns to read.
Six weeks into first grade, she becomes one of over 30,000 falling down the Polio Hole—which is the way she thinks of the illness sweeping across America.
During those years of dealing with braces, crutches, the loss of muscles that will never come back, she finds she is still very much who she always was, only more aware of the world's miracles. With a lasting lesson from her night visitor in the Isolation Hospital and a second chance as the Halloween Queen with her sweetheart Richard, she also earns a dog named Buddy, a horse with the nickname Lightn', and the friendship of a woman who teaches the enchantment of letters that can be read only with a mirror.
Shelley's battle to overcome the nightmare illness that changed America is woven into the story of the scientific development of the vaccine that nailed shut the Polio Hole. The efforts to bury the Hole worldwide is a major challenge of the twenty-first century.