Alzheimers is something that hasn't directly affected my family, so I can only imagine how devastating and heartbreaking it would be to see someone IAlzheimers is something that hasn't directly affected my family, so I can only imagine how devastating and heartbreaking it would be to see someone I love suffer from it. But although I don't have a personal connection to the story, I wanted to learn more about the disease and how it impacts the lives of not just the sufferer, but their family and friends.
Alice is an incredibly smart woman and in a way perhaps that makes this book all the more heartbreaking. She's active, intelligent, focused and very successful - and although she realises she is getting to be a little forgetful, it's only when she becomes disorientated in a very familiar place that she starts to realise something is very wrong.
In some ways, I found Alice quite distant and difficult to connect with as a character. I was incredibly irritated by the attitude of her husband too, but in the end this book wasn't really about whether I liked the characters or not. No matter what my opinion of them, the story itself is what really drives this book, and it really made me think about what makes a person a person - how thoughts and feelings and memories form our personalities and our lives.
And that's why I think Still Alice is a book that resonates with so many readers - whether they have been affected by Alzheimers or not, it's a book that really gets you thinking....more
Mother, Mother I've been reading psychological thrillers like they are going out of print recently. I think it's to do with the fact that I wasn't reaMother, Mother I've been reading psychological thrillers like they are going out of print recently. I think it's to do with the fact that I wasn't reading as much as I normally did for a long period, and a good psychological thriller has the ability to really grab me and keep me reading no matter what. Told in the alternating POVs of the middle Hurst child, Violet, and the youngest, Will, Mother, Mother is an intimate, frightening look at how a family can go so very wrong on the inside, whilst maintaining a fairly regular appearance to the outside world. Josephine, the mother, is a control freak, and Zailckas makes that clear from the very beginning - there's no attempting to hide her obvious narcissism, but it is the way it manifests and emerges further through the story that kept me reading. I wanted to see what lengths she would go to to keep her perfect world perfect. As a character she is obviously disturbing and very unlikeable, but it's very well disguised, and I even started to doubt myself part way through - was Josephine really a nasty bitch, or was it all in MY head? As a character it's difficult to empathise with Will, but I felt that was done purposefully to show the level of control Josephine had over him, and the effects of isolation on an a child - without a chance to interact with the outside world on a regular, normal basis, he withdraws further and further into himself and falls heavily under his mother's control. Violet, on the other hand, I found far more interesting, particularly as her story started to emerge fully in the second half of the book.I do wish that there had been more focus on Douglas, and perhaps even a POV of his own, as his story was more told through the eyes of Will and Violet, but it was intriguing to see how a relationship such as that of Douglas and Josephine can go so terribly wrong.Zailckas' choice to reveal her main characters' weaknesses right from the beginning pays off in Mother, Mother - by allowing the reader to know them from the first page, it made for compulsive reading, and as I mentioned earlier, it actually started to make me wonder if the characters really were as they were insinuated, or whether I was missing something obvious.However, there are a few things that I struggled with - firstly, there is a terrible secret that is revealed towards the end of the book (I don't consider this a spoiler, because it's an obvious part of the plot) but by the time I made it that far into the story I was immune to really being shocked by it considering Josephine's earlier behaviour. Connected to that, having the main characters flaws laid bare in the early part of the story perhaps removed some of the gasp-out-loud moments - I was expecting things to go wrong all the time.Mother, Mother is a psychological almost-thriller that kept me reading like a car crash - at times I wanted to look away, but my mind kept being drawn back into the story....more
A few months ago, I read Ms. Suzuma's book, Forbidden - which was the first book I've ever read that made me cry (not just a bit of moisture, full onA few months ago, I read Ms. Suzuma's book, Forbidden - which was the first book I've ever read that made me cry (not just a bit of moisture, full on tears!). Immediately I went to see what other work she had published, and picked up A Note of Madness, her debut novel.
I knew from the beginning this book would be another tough read, but it was so worthwhile. Ms. Suzuma writes with an intensity that is impossible to walk away from - I was incredibly emotionally invested in this book right from the beginning.
Flynn is the kind of character that you just want to reach through the pages and comfort, and as family and friends try their best to reach out and help him, I could feel their hopelessness and concern. As Flynn's mental health fluctuates, so does the pacing - as a reader I felt like I was right inside his head, experiencing his highs and lows, emotions and experiences.
It wasn't until I finished reading and read some more about Ms Suzuma herself that I found out that mental illness is one of her own personal struggles, which makes me love this book even more - it is truly a work from the heart.
If the subject matter of Forbidden is one step too far for you, I strongly recommend that you read A Note of Madness instead - it's emotional, compelling and you will be incredibly touched by Flynn's story.
From the opening pages I was completely immersed in the story of Sabrina and I had no trouble loosing myself in this book. Told in altern 4 1/2 stars
From the opening pages I was completely immersed in the story of Sabrina and I had no trouble loosing myself in this book. Told in alternating past and present, with flashbacks to Sabrina’s childhood, I initially found myself questioning whether Sabrina was really ill or just a daydreamer of a girl with an over-active imagination.
Life is But a Dream is beautifully, intensely written. As I read the book I was more and more enamoured with Sabrina and couldn’t help but want the best possible outcome for her. Alec was sweet but it took me until almost the end of the book to completely appreciate his feelings and intent towards Sabrina, but this is an integral part of the story. Sabrina’s parents play a smaller role in the book but I felt incredibly sad for them as they also struggled to come to terms with their daughter’s illness.
This book ends with a tense climax, but my only criticism is that I found the ending to be a little bit too short and neat and tidy. Aside from this small issue, the story itself is incredibly convincing and heartbreaking.
Mental illness, particularly young adult mental illness would be a daunting task for any writer. Convincing the reader, and drawing them completely into the world of the main character is on a whole other level, and Mr. James does it exceedingly well.