My Secret Crush: June Opie

This week’s Secret Crush comes from Harlequin Medicals author Alison Roberts. She tells Sold! why this inspiring author is her Ultimate Crush!

There are many, many people that have inspired me over the years but whenever I think about it, there’s one that always comes to mind first—maybe because she was the first for me.

You may well have never heard of June Opie. She was a young New Zealand woman who contracted polio in Cairo on her way to England back in the 50’s. I read her book Over My Dead Body for the first time when I was about eight or nine years old and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it since. Finding she’d written a sequel Over My Dead Body: Forty Years On which was published in 1996 was such a thrill.

I can hear you asking why she made such an impression. This extraordinary young woman rapidly became so paralysed that all she could move was one eyelid so the only way she could communicate was by blinking that eye. She was in an iron lung for months and didn’t leave hospital for two years. When she did, she was struggling to walk with crutches but it didn’t seem like a disability. It was more like a triumphant declaration of success after an incredible struggle that demonstrated her astonishing courage, perseverance and lack of self-pity.

June’s personality shines through her beautifully written words but there are many other real characters in her story that have stayed with me for life—like the man who loved her and the ward sister who became a close friend. Her books read like novels but they are real and often gritty and the tears and laughter they bring are all the more memorable for being real.

June died in 1999 but I know I’m one of a huge number of people that will always remember her. And be inspired by her.

Thanks, June xxx

And thank you, Alison, for sharing her amazing story with all of us!