Book Review · Books

The Girl In Building C

I can’t fathom being 16 and stuck living in a sanatorium with tuberculosis. Marilyn Barnes lived this reality in the 1940’s, during WWII. Marilyn lived with having different treatments and having strict bed rest. Getting letters from family and friends kept her spirits up and the different roommates she had throughout her stay at Ah-Gwanghwamun-ching State Sanatorium in MN. The Girl In Building C is the collection of her letters and photos from her three year stint at the sanatorium.

Only select activities were allowed. Marilyn’s life mainly consisted of reading, naps, and writing letters. She was only allowed certain privileges till her tests came back negative for tuberculosis and even then it was baby steps to doing normal things like going to the restroom. I love resting, napping and reading in bed, but what would my view be of it if that was my life for 3 years? Can you fathom not being allowed outside for months, or to even just walk around in the building? I always thought that expressions from the 50’s was a tad exaggerated in movies, but Marilyn’s hearty use of words and/or expressions like: swell, kids, gee, folks was fascinating. I didn’t realize those were from the 1940’s.

This book was educational. The procedures and surgeries that Marilyn endured boggle my mind. The mid 1940’s was not that long ago. Can you imagine having ribs removed?

This review is for an ARC of The Girl In Building C edited by Mary Krugerud from Edelweiss Plus care of the Minnesota Historical Society Press and is my unbiased, honest opinion. If you enjoy reading nonfiction that is in letter format you won’t be able to put this book down. If you enjoy researching different ailments then this book is a must read, though if you tend to be a hypochondriac or a vivid imagination then I might caution you.

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