Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book Review: Dancing With Rose

I was entirely absorbed in listening to this audio book, by Lauren Kessler, which was about finding life in the land of Alzheimer's. I cannot explain the pull I feel towards literature about Alzheimer's. I don't know of anyone close to me with the disease, and yet I find myself time and again picking up books about it.

This book was a memoir of sorts. The author's own mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and she felt that she hadn't handled the diagnosis very well. She expresses the fear, denial, shock, and distance she felt towards her mother and the disease. Thus, after her own mother's death, Kessler decides to redeem herself by really getting to know people with the disease and those who provide their care. She did this by filling a job in an Alzheimer's care facility. There she discovered first-hand the tireless efforts of the minimum wage workers who serve as Resident Assistants.

Her story is eye-opening and refreshing. She comes to see that Alzheimer's is not a tragic sentence, but a disease that frees the individual to remain entirely in the present. She encounters Alzheimer's patients who are endearing and who live a full, enjoyable life. She explains the idiosyncrysies that come with the disease like hyper-sensitivity to touch and a freedom from the constraints of social dictums. It was a pleasure to hear her descriptions of some of these patients and her interactions with them.

I don't know that I could ever take on, even temporarily, the job Kessler did (I even buck at the demands of my small children, who are, thankfully, sweet enough some of the time to redeem the moments of frustration). I suppose that is how Kessler came to view these patients. I'm just glad to have been able to vicariously experience along with her something that I don't quite feel up to.


Lauren said...

I'm delighted that you found your way to my book and that it resonated. Thanks for your thoughtful review. In my most recent book, I embed myself in 21st century teen culture becoming a kind of Margaret Mead in Middle School. (I have 3 kids too,) Hope you'll take a look. My author site is

Wendy said...

Lauren - Thanks so much for reading my review (although now I'm scanning back through and finding errors). It is always nice when an author weighs in after I write a review. I will definitely look for your recent book about infiltrating middle school (oh, bless you - another difficult age to deal with)!