I often receive offers to endorse products or promote others’ agendas on my blog. I usually ignore or decline these offers. Recently, Maria Corder with Avante Press asked if I would like to read An Absent Mind, a novel about Alzheimer’s scheduled for a March 2014 release. I asked for an electronic version to read.
I am an avid reader and often have a couple of novels going at the same time. It so happened that I was reading two thrillers when she sent the manuscript to me. I downloaded the book onto my Kindle and hoped to get to it before long.
It takes an intriguing novel to get me to put aside a James Patterson book. When I opened An Absent Mind, I was hooked from the beginning when Saul Reimer began to tell his story: “I was always considered a bit peculiar, so no one probably suspected anything until a dreary October afternoon when I removed my gray flannel trousers, opened the front door of my house, and ambled down the street.”
The most compelling dimension of this novel is the intertwining of the perspectives of Saul’s family—his wife Monique, his dependable daughter Florence, his narcissistic son Joey, and Dr. Tremblay. Each family member’s story unfolds as the Alzheimer’s diagnosis changes their lives, their relationships with each other, as well as with Saul. An Absent Mind does justice to exploring the thoughts, motivations, fears, and emotions of a person with dementia and his family members.
Saul takes you into the heart of a person who knows something is going terribly wrong. We feel his fear of what is going to happen, and his suspicion of family, especially Monique, plotting against him. Saul’s unfiltered views are often humorous as he makes observations about his family. About Joey, he says, “…except Joey, who can’t sit for more than the time it takes him to gulp down a milk shake. I often wonder what happens when he’s in the bathroom. With his attention span, he probably can’t sit still until it’s time to reach for the toilet paper.”
Florence is the Reimer child with a strong sense of responsibility. She and her irresponsible brother grew apart over the years, but through necessity they form a fragile relationship. The family pulls together to try to figure out how to deal with Saul. They disagree on the best approach to make those difficult decisions like how to take away the car keys. Each one, in his or her own way, has to find a way to adjust to the changes in Saul during his downward spiral into the Alzheimer’s abyss.
I have to laugh about Monique’s account of Saul ordering magazine subscriptions, aluminum siding, and hired carpet cleaners when they had oak floors. It brings back memories of Jim, the telemarketer’s best friend.
It is easy for me to relate to Monique—her frustration as she struggles to care for Saul at home, and her guilt when she realizes it is “time” to find a better solution. I understand her need to be present daily at the facility, feeding Saul and watching after him. I understand her frustration with Joey when he doesn’t seem to do his fair share. My heart aches for Monique when Saul arises from his apathetic state for a brief moment of clarity and calls her chou-fleur. This powerful moment demonstrates that Alzheimer’s erases a lifetime of memories, but doesn’t empty the soul of love.
The mark of a good novel is one that makes you laugh and cry, and An Absent Mind hits the target dead center. It is obvious Eric Rill knows the devastation of a loved one with Alzheimer’s, and yet tells this story in an uplifting manner. An Absent Mind is riveting from beginning to end as we walk the journey with the Reimer family.
copyright © March 2014 by L.S. Fisher
Eric Rill’s An Absent Mind is available on Amazon.com