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The Dionne Quintuplets: A Tale of Survival and Resilience from Infancy to Adulthood

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When they were born on May 28, 1934, weighing a total of just over 13 pounds, no one expected them to live so much as an hour. Overnight, Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Émilie, and Marie Dionne captivated the world, defying medical history with every breath they took.

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Photo credit: Getty Images

To protect them from hucksters and showmen, the Ontario government took custody of the five identical babies, sequestering them in a private, custom-built hospital across the road from their family — and then, in a stunning act of hypocrisy, proceeded to exploit them for the next nine years. The Dionne Quintuplets became a more popular attraction than Niagara Falls, ogled through one-way screens by sightseers as they splashed in their wading pool at the center of a tourist hotspot known as Queensland. Their faces sold everything from Baby Ruth candy bars to Colgate toothpaste.

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In this masterful work of narrative nonfiction, Sarah Miller examines the lives of five identical sisters forced to endure the most publicized childhood in history — and how they survived their turbulent teenage years to forge identities of their own. Impeccably researched, with photos of the Dionnes from birth through adulthood, this is an enthralling, heartbreaking portrait of a unique sisterhood, imbued with the astonishing resilience of the human spirit.





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