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4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Perspective on Losing a Parent to Alzheimer's, 24 May 2004
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I Remain in Darkness (Hardcover)
Alzheimer's is a cruel disease for those who have it and even more cruel for those who know the sufferers. Everyone who knows someone who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's should read this book to prepare themselves for the experiences ahead. You'll need all of your strength and preparation!
The title is the last sentence the author's mother wrote before she died. One of the frightening aspects of the disease is watching the person discover the loss of faculties, as they occur. Soon, you are not recognized, and the person can lose all of their possessions. They may have to be tied down to keep them from wandering off and getting hurt. Physical deterioration is often not far behind.
The book is a series of notes the author made on occasions when she was with her mother from January 1984 through April 1986, and includes a few days after her mother's death.
You will find a lot of pain here. The author finds that she is revolted by the affliction, at how her mother changes, by the memories she has of things she should not have done, and in her own reactions to her mother's changes. As a result, there's a lot of guilt and remorse to deal with. By reading how Ms. Ernaux went through this, you may have an easier time forgiving yourself if you are subject to the same feelings in the future.
The book is filled with pretty direct stories and references to things that can be upsetting: People exposing themselves, getting sores in private places, human excretion, unpleasant smells and sights, and rough language. You will hear, see, feel, smell, and taste what the author experienced. In this area, I found the translation a little strange at times. Several crude words would be used, then a reference would be made that seemed to be employing a euphemism for a more direct word. Is the translation more or less crude than the author intended? I don't know.
The reason I did not give the book five stars is that it could really use a little more perspective than just the notes. Apparently, the experience was so painful that the author decided to let the notes speak for themselves. Perhaps in the future, Ms. Ernaux will choose to revisit this work, and put it into more context.
Is this work contrived by a fine writer, or is it simple human drama? I'm inclined to think it is the latter. Few would portray themselves and their mother this way simply to entertain readers. I could feel the searing pain as I read the entries. I think you will, too.
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I Remain in Darkness
I Remain in Darkness by Annie Ernaux (Paperback - 5 April 2001)
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