Cover image for Three quarters, two dimes, and a nickel : a memoir of becoming whole
Three quarters, two dimes, and a nickel : a memoir of becoming whole
Fiffer, Steve.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Free Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xvii, 266 pages ; 23 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RD796.F54 A3 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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What would you do if you were seventeen years old and broke your neck? It's tough enough to stand on the verge of adulthood without the extra burden of not being able to stand at all. Steve Fiffer had his whole life ahead of him in December 1967 when he fractured his fifth cervical vertebra in a wrestling accident at school, shattering his dreams. The diagnosis was quadriplegia, and his parents were told that he would never walk again. Steve, however, was not content to accept such a fate. He had always been taught that he was a leader, not a follower, and he was not going to take this news lying down. Within five months he was out of the hospital, within seven he was on crutches, and within nine he was beginning his freshman year at Yale University. And most remarkable of all, he never lost his wisecracking sense of humor or his hunger for all that life has to offer.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

A freak gym accident turned Fiffer into a quadriplegic. Seemingly miraculously, that condition improved to cane-assisted functionality, and Fiffer's remembrance of his recovery of health, concurrent with his maturation to young adulthood, informs this affecting memoir. The injury occurred in 1967, in the midst of college application season. Aiming for the Ivy League, Fiffer carried on with the process from his hospital room, but one senses that his relationships with parents, younger brothers, and girlfriends (former and future) were more important influences on his predicament. "Your accident changed all of us forever," his mother remarked years later. Despite artifice in this memoir (some characters are composites, as obviously are some of the dialogues), it contains the self-critical honesty essential to making a stranger's life story worth knowing. Displaying also a knack for pithy characterization, especially of his profane physical trainer, a hybrid of Jack LaLanne and Archie Bunker, Fiffer's retrospective on his life will appeal to all whose lives, like Fiffer's, have been upset in an instant. --Gilbert Taylor