Book Review: The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman

the memory bookWhat’s it about?BBC 2014

The name of your first-born. The face of your lover. Your age. Your address…

What would happen if your memory of these began to fade?

Is it possible to rebuild your life? Raise a family? Fall in love again?

When Claire starts to write her Memory Book, she already knows that this scrapbook of mementoes will soon be all her daughters and husband have of her. But how can she hold on to the past when her future is slipping through her fingers…?

My thoughts

Told in turn by Claire, her daughter Caitlin, mother Ruth and husband Greg we learn what it is to live with early onset Alzheimer’s and what devastation, heartbreak and despair it can cause to not only the sufferer but also to their family.

With the timeline flipping back and forth by chapter depending upon who’s narrating we see how the family cope or don’t as they all record their memories in the Memory Book: how Claire has to adapt from her life as a teacher to feeling like a prisoner in her own home; Caitlin from becoming the child to the role as parent; Ruth having to deal with the anger at watching her daughter deal with the same disease that took her husband from her and Greg, losing the love of his life.

The scenes with Claire where she can’t remember the names of the simplest items I found were some of the hardest to read. Having worked in a residential home for the elderly and with dementia patients, it’s so hard to see people struggle and the frustration and the book is a very genuine depiction. Honestly, this will have your emotions on a rollercoaster, it didn’t quite make me cry (somebody needs to die for me to cry) but it has all these highs and lows that draw you in and make you feel each character’s turmoil.

There was one thing I wasn’t 100% sure I liked in this book and that was Claire’s relationship with Ryan. I was actually wondering is Ryan actually real or a hallucination. I totally get what was trying to be achieved; that holding on to absolutely anything you can but I actually didn’t like the deception even if it was innocent and romantic. Read the book, see what I mean about the twist at the end and then come back to me 🙂

This isn’t a typical romance story, it has a much deeper feeling and highlights a horrible debilitating disease without trivialising.  Overall this is a wonderfully written story of love and devotion and I would definitely recommend.

Buy the book Hardback | Kindle

Connect with the author Rowan Coleman

Twitter | Website | Facebook

To find out more about Alzheimer’s Disease visit The Alzheimer’s Society

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