Books: Return of the Prodigy

FORBIDDEN CHILDHOOD (263 pp.)—Ruth Slenczynska and Louis Biancolli—Doubleday ($3.95).

Ruth Slenczynska was different. Before she was even born, her Polish immigrant father knew she would be a musician, and when he first saw her in a Sacramento hospital two hours after birth, he sobbed ecstatically over her sturdy wrists and padded fingertips. Twelve days later he confidently announced that she would "be one of the world's greatest musicians." He meant it.

Ruth's father was a frustrated violinist (reduced to giving lessons), but when she rebelled against this instrument at the age of three, pleading for the piano, he gave her what she wanted....

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