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  • Writer's pictureBonnie Lee

The Girl Who Made Pearl Buck Extraordinary

Not a lot of people knew that Pearl Buck had a severely disable daughter named Carol. 

Her daughter was diagnosed with PKU, which made her body unable to break down protein or amino acids. Her brain stopped growing as early as one year old. The diagnosis wasn’t discovered until Carol was in her thirties. By then, it was too late to change her diet to make any difference. 

It was hard to give up hope for her daughter. She kept trying to teach her to write her name and to appreciate music. But at one point, she felt how sweaty Carol’s hand was and knew she was stressed out from trying to please her mom. 

Medical expenses were too great to settle her daughter at a permanent home. Pearl wrote, the Good Earth, hoping to earn $20,000. The book became a multimillion book deal. 

Carol lived to her seventies. She did remarkable things for someone with PKU. She could communicate in one word answers. She could do simple sewing projects and hummed to her favorite classical music records. In her old age,  she could be seen riding her tricycle around the institution which was her home for 60 years. 

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