Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth ~ Book Review

Anna Forster is only 38 years old when she notices signs of forgetfulness occurring way too often in her life.  Watching her mom suffer through the same diagnosis she knows what's coming.  Soon she quits her beloved career as a paramedic not wanting the forgetfulness to manifest itself in an emergency.  But when her sweet nephew is injured as a result of a lapse in her memory, Anna gives in to her brother and allows him to take her to an assisted living facility called Rosiland House.  With only a dozen residents, it's more home like than institutional, but at her age it's still hard thinking she will be living with all seniors.  But when she gets there she meets another person her own age also with early onset dementia.  In an impossible future, the two find friendship and love...much to the dismay of her family.  As her brother fights to keep them apart, Anna finds empathy with the new cook and cleaner hired by the home.  Eve Bennett has taken the less than ideal job at the Rosiland House putting her chef's career on hold so that she can keep her daughter in the school where she has found friends.  Recently widowed and betrayed Eve is moved by the relationship that Luke and Anna share.  But she must decide if her job is worth the risk of helping them keep their relationship.

This story is very different from the well known "Still Alice" by Lisa Genova but in it's own way is also a very insightful and touching look into early onset Alzheimer's.  While those of us who have never lived through a loved one diagnosed with this horrible disease and will never really know exactly what the heartbreak is like, this story gave us another layer of it that Still Alice started.  It takes a peek into life inside an assisted living facility and explores  the emotional bonds that young sufferers might face and how they and their families and caretakers cope.  It also explores the implications, pros and cons of decisions made by facilities and family and the loss of control of one's own life.   It's a bittersweet love story that is eye-opening and made me think what I would have done in both the family's and the cook's viewpoint.

I gave it an 8.5/10


Barbara Harper said...

This would be one of the hardest scenarios. I had a long-ago blog friend whose husband was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's, and it was heartbreaking.

My mother-in-law's nursing home had a few young residents, and I thought that must be so hard for them. This sounds like an intriguing story.

Faith said...

I want to read this. Remember Sandy from JEsus and Dark Chocolate blog? Her hubby was diagnosed with early onset and she writes about it from time to time. I loved Still Alice, my dad was diagnosed with dementia and that was bad enough!! I cant imagine any earlier than 80s.