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Unmeasured Strength    by Lauren Manning order for
Unmeasured Strength
by Lauren Manning
Order:  USA  Can
Macmillan Audio, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

On Sept. 11, 2001, Lauren Manning was burned over more than 90% of her body when she was on her way to work at Cantor Fitzgerald in one of the World Trade Center towers. Unmeasured Strength is her story of what happened that day and what she had to go through to recover from her burns. She reads the audiobook herself. At first I thought that her voice was not going to be as effective as that of an actress or professional reader, since she narrates in a modulated, soft-spoken way about an experience that at first seemed to call for more emotion. As the story progresses, however, I came to realize how much more powerful her account is. All the emotion in her voice that's necessary shines through as she reads.

She starts her story with what happened as she attempted to go to work that terrible day. She was actually lucky that she had just entered the building, since those who were in the offices where she was heading all died. Lauren then backtracks to tell us about her childhood and her life in the years preceding her experience on 9/11, and this helps to explain how she found the courage to go through all the painful recuperation and surgeries that were necessary to save her life.

Lauren was determined to not only survive, but also to regain the life she had lost as a beloved wife and the mother of a young son. It helped that her husband, family, and friends were supportive, but the courage was Lauren's own. Other people who were less badly burned than she was died, but she fought for a place in the ambulance even though the emergency medical technicians thought that she didn't have a chance of surviving. Once she got to the hospital and her husband found her there, they both had to insist that she be transferred to a burn center because there was no one in that first hospital who knew how to take care of serious burns. After that, she details the treatment that she received, telling about the usual care of burn victims these days, as well as the additional surgeries and medical and physical therapy that she required.

There were lots of stories in newspapers and magazines that came out during the first days and weeks after 9/11 about people escaping the twin towers. Lauren's story was also featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Today Show, but I found it especially inspiring to listen to it ten years later, after all the healing that she has experienced. No one thought at first that she would even live, but she proved them wrong and serves as an inspiration to others who are badly injured. Because of the way Lauren tells her story, even those who might normally be squeamish about hearing someone tell about medical procedures shouldn't worry. She speaks of her lengthy return to health tactfully and with grace, and I highly recommend this audiobook to anyone.

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