Alzheimer’s disease has become so prevalent these days, or our awareness of it is much greater than it was, or both. Accordingly there have been books written about it, and from them I have a better understanding of the effects on those suffering the condition, and the ones who care for them. Particularly devastating is early onset Alzheimer’s. Excellent books in this area include Lisa Genova’s Still Alice, which was made into a movie, Sally Hepworth’s The Things We Keep, and Diane Touchell’s Forgetting Foster which is written for young adults from the perspective of a child. Before You Forget is also written for young adults, but from the point of view of seventeen-year-old Amelia, whose father has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at forty-seven.
She is in her final year of school and dealing with all that that entails, together with a best friend with an eating disorder, who believes her life would be perfect if she was thin, and won’t talk to Amelia about it or anything else.
The responses of each family member are so authentic – her father’s denial, rage and use of alcohol to blot out the reality of what he is dealing with, her mother going from snappy to sad and spending time at work, not only to pay the bills that she is now solely responsible for, but also to avoid being at home. Amelia goes from pretending it’s not happening, being scared of her dad, to frustrated that she has to care for him, rather than the other way around.
This is a very real account of the disease that all young people and older should read as there is a good chance that someone they know is experiencing this first or second hand. Add this to the collection of great books I mentioned above covering this topic.