"I Will Never Forget", by Elaine C. Pereira (book review)

How does one prepare to care for loved ones suffering from dementia?  When loved ones seem to forget simple things, we may have the tendency to write them of as random quirks.  But when reflecting on memories, it's then that we clearly see what should have been red flags that somehow slipped past our attention.

In her debut book, Elaine Pereira captures the memories and struggles she now cherishes in her light-hearted account of her mother's battle with dementia. As I read the book, I reflected on my wife's grandmother who was also stricken with this disease, and although her life and Elaine's mother's were different, some of the details were unfortunately the same.

PURPOSE OF THE BOOK:  After I finished reading the book, I was able to speak with Elaine to ask her a few questions.  I was honestly inquisitive about why she wrote the book because it didn't seem to have a singular message.  Instead, it came across as a memoir.  Elaine explained that it was just that: a memoir.  She did not want her mother, who was academically and professionally a successful woman, to be remembered as the person she was in her later years.  Instead, she wanted readers to remember Betty for who she truly was.  She wants people to remember Betty, not the disease that stole her personality.

I would suppose Elaine would like her readers in similar situations to take this same notion away from the book.  When you struggle to care for your loved one suffering from this disease, recognize his/her characteristics and traits are not who those loved ones truly are.  Instead, behavior and memory flaws are the results of a horrible disease that steals the memories of good people. It is easy to get frustrated with the afflicted, but we must remember that it is not the individual person's fault, but the disease's.

FORMAT:  Writing a historical account is challenging, in that the writer must tell linear history in a way that is interesting.  That said, I truly enjoyed the way Elaine wrote this memoir.  She wrote it in a back-and-forth fashion, not sticking to a particular timeline.  

For instance, Elaine would reflect in flashback-fashion on a memory she had of, say, her mother teaching her how to bake, or a time when she got in trouble as a youngster.  Because she included funny stories of their younger lives, it was easy to like Betty and Elaine.  After telling a particular story, Elaine would then jump ahead to recent past years to tie the previous story to the point she attempted to make in the chapter.  While some readers may not like this back-and-forth style, I found it enjoyable because I didn't feel bogged down with matters of chronology.  Instead, I could simply enjoy the story for the purpose of the story.

TRAGEDY:  I could never imagine the pain and grief entailed in burying my own children -- no matter how old we may be.  Elaine included the heart-breaking stories of Betty stoically laying two of her children to rest, along with her husband in later years.  Through it all, Betty was a champion, and I never sensed Betty ever complained "woe is me".   Just when you think your life is difficult, read a book about the struggles others have faced.

EDITING:  I've read a number of self-published books over the years, and as far as editing is concerned, they are usually pretty weak in the editing department.  However, this book was absolutely flawless.  I complimented Elaine on this fact that she had no spelling, word-use, or grammatical errors (that I could see), and that I found it refreshing to read.  She said the self-publishing industry has given itself a bad reputation because given the right amount of money anyone can publish anything -- good or bad.  Instead, she hopes people will recognize there are quality authors who are self publishing for one reason or another, and that we simply need to sift through the other stuff.

CONCLUSION:  So, that's the purpose of this review.  If you find yourself in the situation of caring for a loved who is suffering from dementia, you are not alone.  Maybe this book will be a heads-up to you if you're in the early stages with the disease; or maybe it will be a comforter knowing others struggle with you.  I hope this book will capture the attention from professionals in the medical field, and I think it will capture the interests of families in a similar situation as Elaine.

RATING: While "I Will Never Forget" is not a page-turner, I found it enjoyable to read.  I give this one 4 stars.  I typically give 5 to those "I-can't-put-this-one-down" kind of book.  So, 4 is my opinion that this is a pretty high quality book.

PROCEEDS: A portion of all the proceeds from sales of this book go to support Alzheimer's research.  If you buy on June 21st, "the longest day", however, Elaine will donate double to this much-needed research.

DISCLAIMER: I received this book free of charge from the author.  I was not coerced to provide a positive review of it.  All opinions are mine.

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