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Not simply the story of a disease, but of the flawed, complex, intelligent people whose lives it transformed.

The power of this graphic memoir is not that its story about a family dealing with Alzheimer’s is so extraordinary, but that it has become so ordinary.

In her first book, Canadian writer and cartoonist Leavitt shows her mother agreeing to have her experiences with the disease documented because “[m]aybe this will help other families!” And likely it will, letting those experiencing the dementia of someone they love know what to expect, and to reassure that the tangled emotions they feel in response—anger, frustration, devotion, humor—are inevitable. Though this is primarily an account of the author’s experiences as her mother becomes all but emotionally unrecognizable, it is also a narrative spanning two generations of complicated family dynamics. Leavitt illustrates significant differences between her mother’s closeness with her sisters and how the disease affects those relationships, and the contrasting tension between the author and her sister. It shows the strains that Alzheimer’s puts on everything—from the sufferer’s well being and sense of purpose to a loving marriage to the physical demands of caring for someone who can no longer care for herself. The narrative is human, honest, loving and occasionally even funny. “I created this book,” Leavitt writes in the introduction, “to remember her as she was before she got sick, but also to remember her as she was during her illness, the ways in which she was transformed and the ways in which parts of her endured. As my mother changed, I changed too, forced to reconsider my own identity as a daughter and as an adult and to recreate my relationship with my mother.”

Not simply the story of a disease, but of the flawed, complex, intelligent people whose lives it transformed.

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-61608-639-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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