EXCERPT: My name is Mary, and I have Alzheimer’s disease.
It makes me think of AA meetings I’ve seen in the movies. My name is so-and-so, and I’m an alcoholic. It’s an acknowledgement, a way of facing your problem. Writing this is an acknowledgement too. A way of confronting the truth.
I’ve been telling myself that I’ve just been having a few memory lapses – part of normal aging. But I’m slipping away. I can feel it.
Losing logic and understanding.
Having to tell myself that red means stop and green means go.
I’ve been trying to hide it. Hide from it. Ignore it. Make excuses. But one day I’ll be gone, even though I will still be here.
It’s hard to accept. Hard to believe. A living death. A dying life.
Will I know what’s happening? I hope not.
ABOUT ‘GONE BUT STILL HERE’: Coming to terms with advancing dementia, Mary has no choice other than to move into her daughter’s home. Her daughter, Kayla, caught between her cognitively impaired mother and her belligerent teenage son, soon finds caregiving is more challenging than she imagined. Sage, the family’s golden retriever, offers comfort and unconditional love, but she has her own problems, especially when it comes to dealing with Mary’s cat.
Throughout it all, Mary struggles to complete her final book — a memoir, the untold story of the love of her life, who died more than forty years earlier. Her confused and tangled tales span Trinidad, England, and Canada, revealing the secrets of a tragic interracial love story in the 1960s and ’70s. But with her writing skills slipping away, it’s a race against time.
MY THOUGHTS: Although Gone But Still Here is a work of fiction, Mary’s backstory is the author’s own.
This wonderful book can’t have been easy to write, but it is written with wisdom and wit. Gone But Still Here is an emotional read. I cringed at the treatment Mary and Keith received from both family and strangers because of their interracial marriage. I cried as Mary struggled to raise three small children alone with little support, but I also applauded her bravery and determination. And Mary’s journey into Alzheimer’s? That engendered a whole range of emotions.
The story is told from multiple points of view: Mary – we get to live her disease through her eyes; Kayla, Mary’s daughter who puts her own life on hold to care for her mother; Jesse, Kayla’s teenage son and Mary’s grandson whose life is also impacted by the arrival of his ‘nutty’ grandmother; and Sage, the wonderful family dog who provided a lot of light relief with her dog’s view of life.
The author shares the struggles, frustrations, fears, and incredible joys that accompany caring for an Alzheimer’s patient as a previously fractured family is drawn closer together by the experience.
While I loved this book and the storytelling, Sage (or Toby as Mary was sure she was called) is the outstanding character and earned this read an extra star.
I: #jenniferdance @dundurnpress
T: @JenniferDance1 @dundurnpress
#contemporaryfiction #historicalfiction #aging #familydrama #deathanddying #sliceoflife
THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Dance was born in England and holds a B.Sc. in Agriculture and Animal Science from the University of the West Indies. She migrated to Canada in 1979. With family in the Native community, Jennifer has a passion for equality and justice for all people.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Dundurn Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Gone But Still Here by Jennifer Dance for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com