A moving, compassionate, and poignant tribute to the enduring bonds of family amid disease, this account should be a...

DISEASE

A devastating medical diagnosis redirects the future of a loving gay family.

When journalist Hunter MacIntyre is officially diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, the news is crippling not only for him, but also for his husband, Ethan, a high school teacher, and their 5-year-old daughter, Amy. Prolific Swedish author Hirschi’s (Jonathan Trilogy, 2016, etc.) emotional tale opens with Ethan's presenting MacIntyre’s life through the journalist’s notes. Ethan—now a widower with a teenage daughter—continues to mourn the loss yet offers MacIntyre’s diary in hopes that it will illuminate the heartbreak of the disease that robbed him of his livelihood, his perception of the world around him, and ultimately his home life. MacIntyre’s history plays out within a narrative that is told through epistolary chapters weaving in his personal chronicle of gay fatherhood, objections to his family unit being considered “different” by his magazine editor, his married life with Ethan, and cherished and bittersweet childhood memories. He also writes from the internal vantage point of a frustrated man struggling with an increasingly faulty memory, the internalized terror of paranoia, the allure of suicide, and the solemn acceptance of living “with a death sentence.” As his family genetics predestined MacIntyre to acquire the debilitating disease, he writes of his mother’s plight with dementia-induced paranoia. Hirschi expands the focus and perspective of his character’s ordeal with the inclusion of Ethan’s own first-person narrative recounted both as MacIntyre’s health declined and in contemporary hindsight as a widower, years after his husband’s shocking death. Through his words, readers become acquainted with Ethan as a doting husband, the evolution of their relationship from first impressions to a cozy wedding ceremony in Italy, Amy’s birth, and MacIntyre’s crushing diagnosis and mental decline. An immensely thoughtful writer, Hirschi also allows his characters to ruminate over situations they have little control over, such as MacIntyre’s father’s remarriage and concerns over what kind of father Ethan’s new partner would be to Amy. Themes of longing, helplessness, and enduring love further inform this affecting tale, whose multiple narratives coalesce beautifully as they chronologically and touchingly document the incremental decline of a loving father and how a family must carry on despite its anguish.

A moving, compassionate, and poignant tribute to the enduring bonds of family amid disease, this account should be a must-read for anyone in the throes of an ordeal involving Alzheimer’s disease.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78645-161-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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