When a beloved husband and father slips into the black hole of early-onset dementia, he pulls his family with him into an inescapable identity crisis. After all, who are we if we forget...and who are we if we are forgotten?
Diane Tate watches her husband, Gregory, fade as Alzheimer’s robs him of his memory, abilities, and eventually even the essence of who he once was. The problem begins when Gregory, an African-American architect who owns a firm in Washington, D.C., with a longtime friend, forgets meetings and gets lost in the city. He fears his symptoms and only visits a doctor when they become too hard to hide. Once the diagnosis is confirmed and gradually made public, Gregory’s family, friends, and co-workers support him in their individual ways. Along with Diane, Gregory's grown children, Lauren and Sean, struggle to forge a new relationship with him in a constantly changing dance of love and loss—and at times fear, resentment, anger, and even violence. Eventually events compel Diane to put 68-year-old Gregory in an assisted living home, but she aches when he forges stronger bonds with a resident there than with her. Diane strives to widen the boundaries of her love and understanding. Golden’s (After, 2006, etc.) choice of third-person narration allows a sweeping view of the family’s dilemma but perhaps one with less intensity than if the story had been all Diane’s. Nevertheless, the horror of the disease and the havoc it unleashes is clear.
Golden’s redemptive novel is a tale of family survival in which love softens the brutal edges of an insidious disease.