Poignant, eye-opening, and uniquely relevant patient stories interwoven with practical approaches to compassionate elder...

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THE AGING MIND

WHEN DEMENTIA AND ALZHEIMER'S THREATEN OUR ELDERLY

An assortment of reality-based portraits examines dementia and Alzheimer’s disease sufferers and their hardworking caregivers.  

Veteran caregiver Boggs channels her nearly 20 years of experience in elder support into this heartfelt, illuminating debut book focusing on both patient convalescence and the importance of self-care while delivering aid to those in need. The author believes there is limited knowledge of Alzheimer’s and dementia in contemporary society and therefore an underappreciation for the impact these illnesses have on patients, their families, and the emotional and physical well-beings of caregivers themselves. Among the patient profiles she provides is that of ornery, diminutive 93-year-old Cynthia, who rejects repeated offers for caregiving suggested by her concerned nephew. Her story is narrated by Annelle Bright, an aide with a Connecticut home care agency. Bright escorts readers through the various stages of her client-caregiver relationship with Cynthia, a prideful former professional who had lived in her home for over 60 years until a dementia diagnosis. As bonding progresses, Cynthia generously shares her rich, extensive, melodramatic personal and familial history with Bright even as her disease progression ebbs through an eventual heartbreaking, irreversible descent. Boggs’ volume emphasizes themes of perceived familial abandonment, loneliness, and confusion alongside the hopelessness, frustration, and sadness caregivers must endure for the greater good of their patients. The author stresses that her book is not meant to replace nor supplement clinical guides on elder dementia care but instead act as a motivational learning and emotional support tool. Sensitively rendered throughout, the work will give readers a good sense of the critical importance of administering attentive care to those struggling with age-related memory impairment and mood alterations. Boggs’ chronicle of Cynthia’s past and upsetting incremental decline does tend to ramble on a bit lengthily, with overly extended chapters on developments with her caregiver. Even so, the author’s message is one of tough love tempered with the kind of exasperated humor that occurs during situations that are beyond anyone’s control. Boggs reminds readers that the consistent patience, humanity, and resilience required to assist Alzheimer’s patients can be difficult to muster and that those delivering this essential care are a selfless, compassionate, unparalleled breed.   

Poignant, eye-opening, and uniquely relevant patient stories interwoven with practical approaches to compassionate elder care.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4809-2738-4

Page Count: 404

Publisher: Dorrance Publishing Co.

Review Posted Online: July 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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