The Things We Keep
Sally Hepworth has written a moving tale about love and caring for loved ones that was hard to put down. This is a story about adults in their mid-thirties, Anna and Luke who both develop early onset Alzheimer’s and dementia. Both are living in a residential care facility. They develop a relationship that family members have difficulty coping with due to the nature of their illnesses. While the story is both sad and thought provoking, it's filled with interesting characters. In addition to Anna and Luke there is Eve, adjusting to a new life after Richard, her husband defrauded his financial clients. And Clementine, Eve's daughter, has to cope with changes in her own way. The residential home which is the setting for much of the book has other well developed characters a well, who are grappling with their own problems.
This story forces one to think about Alzheimer’s and dementia from the patients point of view. It exposes the dilemma a family member or caregiver has when they grapple with relationship issues. How much can a patient decide for themselves if they can't remember things. It's heartbreaking to think that the patient is “trapped” inside a body that can no longer clearly relate needs, wants and desires to a caregiver. Yet the patient may still feel the effects of actions taken by the caregiver.
I liked the structure of this book because it allows the reader to find out things as the book progresses and it works well as there are really several stories woven through the text. I also like that each person is telling their side of the story, which makes the reader feel very involved. I only wish that Luke had been given more of a voice in the story, as we only hear his voice through Anna. Nevertheless, I liked the ending and although I have to admit that I cried a lot through the sad bits, it did convey what the characters and the author felt was important in life.
Thanks to St. Martin's Press for providing the advanced reader's copy.