Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Somebody I Used to Know: A Memoir” as Want to Read:
Somebody I Used to Know: A Memoir
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Somebody I Used to Know: A Memoir

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  981 ratings  ·  142 reviews
Wendy Mitchell had a busy job with the British National Health Service, raised her two daughters alone, and spent her weekends running and climbing mountains. Then, slowly, a mist settled deep inside the mind she once knew so well, blurring the world around her. She didn't know it then, but dementia was starting to take hold. In 2014, at age fifty-eight, she was diagnosed ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by Ballantine Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Somebody I Used to Know, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Somebody I Used to Know

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Petra Eggs
I finished the book and the mystery of how come she couldn't carry on a simple conversation but could write a book was revealed. She could write, the dementia didn't affect her ability with words although there were times when she couldn't recognise the letters on the keyboard. And, of course, there was a ghost writer.

The ending reminded me of the last words of the author, Jean-Dominique Bauby,
of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, a memoir of locked-in syndrome, as he was talking about a cure,
Diane S ☔
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I never thought I would be writing a review of a book, where a woman at the age of 58, diagnosed with early onset dementia, and call it the most inspirational story I have ever read. Of course it's not a story, it is a true happening, Wendy's life now, but one she intends to live to the fullest. The things she does, how she finds ways around her diminish capacity truly fills me with awe. One particular thing she said really hit home, is incredibly motivating, and that is that she is not sufferin ...more
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Early onset dementia is scary as f*^k. This is an extremely sensitive and honest perspective of a woman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 58.
Wendy Mitchell found out she had the disease then set about fighting this with every ounce of strength she had. Absolutely, this is such a debilitating disease for not only the afflicted but for the families. I lost my dad to Alzheimer’s last year and my mom is in a nursing home with dementia. It is a disease that creeps up and then tries to corner y
ETA: do you want to see Wendy Mitchell? Do you want to know more about her life and her book? Click on the link to The Guardian article below, at the bottom of my review.


Wendy Mitchell, the author of this book, was diagnosed with young-onset Alzheimer’s in 2014 at the age of fifty-eight. This is a book about how it is to have Alzheimer's. The author is a remarkable woman--a strong woman with character and guts. She is a woman I highly admire. She has written this book with th
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an inspiring read, a memoir written by Wendy Mitchell who was diagnosed with dementia at the early age of fifty-eight.
This book became more significant to me when my father started showing signs of dementia over the last few months. It is still early days for my father and he is still awaiting tests before been diagnosed but many of the things Wendy describes in her book were very enlightening and have helped me personally with my understanding of this awful illness.
This book is the firs
A remarkable insider’s look at the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Mitchell took several falls while running near her Yorkshire home, but it wasn’t until she had a minor stroke in 2012 that she and her doctors started taking her health problems seriously. In July 2014 she got the dementia diagnosis that finally explained her recurring brain fog. She was 58 years old, and a single mother with two grown daughters and a 20-year career in NHS administration. Having prided herself on her good memory and ...more
Canadian Reader
Rating: 3.5

Fifty-six-year-old Wendy Mitchell was out for her usual jog when she fell, badly banging and bloodying herself. After seeking medical attention, she returned to the place she’d stumbled, expecting to see a pothole or uneven ground. There was neither. A few days later while out on another run, she fell yet again. Aware that she’d been excessively fatigued and had been experiencing a persistent “sensation of a head half-full of cotton wool”, Mitchell visited her GP. A few weeks later (p
H.A. Leuschel
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an extraordinary memoir by a courageous and inspiring woman! I was blown away by this book, often found myself tearing up and also smiling about her sense of humour and ingenious industriousness.
This book is a first of its kind because never before has a person with young onset dementia written an account about her illness and the day to day changes she has had to live with and adapt to. How do you hold on to who you are, the job you do, the relationships you cherish when a disease is crue
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Somebody I Used to Know is a brave and illuminating journey inside the mind, heart, and life of early onset Alzheimer’s disease.—Lisa Genova, New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thank you, Wendy for sharing your story, for letting us honestly see how this disease affects a person. I inhaled this memoir in one afternoon as Wendy described how at age fifty-eight, her once active life was coming unraveled. I read as she slowly described how her world was changing, how the things that she loved to do were now becoming complicated. To think that at age fifty-eight, this disease was slowly creeping into her life, that this was only the beginning. Wendy’s attitude and resilien ...more
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-star
An altogether inspirational read chronicling one woman’s journey as she is diagnosed with early onset dementia in her fifties. With a hefty dose of black humour and endless cups of tea, the author is unrelenting on her positive attitude towards living with - not suffering of - her progressive brain disease.

Having worked in dementia care as a care worker then as a nurse for over a decade I have most definitely learnt something new from reading this book. I considered how sensory issues affect de
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-perfect-gift
A person who is admired or
Idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

When I first opened this book I had many expectations but one I did not ever expect to find was a hero. I do not think that is a word that Wendy would use to describe herself. But, she fits it perfectly. Wendy has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. And this is her story.

Wendy says she is not somebody suffering with dementia she is someone LIVING with dementia . But I believe that she is
Wendy Greenberg
Feb 23, 2018 rated it liked it
A patchwork of bleak and hopeful episodes stitch together this memoir. I found it provided a well crafted behind the eyes look at dementia as well as the memoir (and eclipse) of a practical woman railing against perceptions. Wendy's former self "speaks" through the progress of the disease.

The author invests her time in educating others expectations of the disease reminding us that there is an early stage. Her can-do attitude is inspirational but we learn her way of being as independent and pro-a
Ricche Khosasi
a very touching story
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't often give the 5 stars, but this true story of how dementia impacts a life and what can be done to minimise the disruption is amazing. Sad as it is it gives hope for those that are travelling down this path that it isn't all back, and for those of us who hopefully are not going that way but may well encounters others less fortunate it gives us an insight it what is a truly frightening and confusing illness. Bravo for having the ability and the desire to write this book - I am in awe of y ...more
Gaby Butterfield
Apr 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Good to read something written from the prospective of the person going through dementia. Having watched family members struggle through this themselves, I think writing a book was a massive achievement and a help to others perhaps entering their own uncertainties. It felt very real and I could imagine being her, perhaps a little scary knowing the possibilities and that it can happen so young. Very sad, but insightful. A little repetitive, but then again it’s from memoirs, so that’s understandab ...more
Kate Wyver
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Goes some way to demonstrate the frustration and fragility of dementia, but the very plain language and overwhelming amount of clichéd metaphors stop it being the kind of devastating it feels like it should be. One lovely description of a life with dementia being like a bookshelf shaken, the top books and most recent memories falling first.
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-04-apr
Fascinating insight into living and coping with early onset dementia. Retaining dignity, independence and not being a burden on your children
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review to follow.
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
Disclaimer: I received this proof copy published by Bloomsbury Publishing courtesy of Pansing Distributors in exchange for my honest review.

“What do you lose when you lose your memories? How do you conceive of love when you can no longer recognise those who are supposed to mean the most to you?”

Somebody I used to know is a philosophical, insightful and moving memoir about the author and her diagnosis of early-onset dementia at the age of 58. All at once, she had to say goodbye to the woman she u
Apr 05, 2018 rated it liked it
This memoir documents the authors experience being diagnosed and living with early onset dementia. Wendy Mitchell has not let this diagnosis take everything from her though I suspect that one day it will. Admirably she has used her diagnosis and experience to help others and further research into the disease.

I am in support of voluntary euthanasia and this memoir only strengthened my views.

Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 4-stars
This is a memoir written by a woman with “young onset Alzheimer’s.”

Wendy Mitchell is a marvel and inspiration. She was an administrator at a hospital with a staff and she begins her book with how she started losing her memory at work. She got lost in the building.. What a nightmare! She eventually had to tell her colleagues about her condition. It was heartwarming how the staff made a few adjustments to help her not be confused and to remember who was who on the staff. She eventually had to ret
Elizabeth Vazquez
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book introduced me to a whole new viewpoint on what it's like to live with, not struggle with, dementia and early on-set Alzheimer's disease. The author was adamant in making sure the reader understood that people with dementia are still people living a life and they need to be recognized as such. Her relentless pursuit of research studies, conferences and support groups kept her from becoming a vacant shell, like so many of those who are diagnosed become. There were so many tips and tricks ...more
Carrie Eisenhandler
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book. I think we all know someone who has dementia/Alzheimer's and also worry about one day developing the disease ourselves. Wendy Mitchell writes beautifully about her early onset dementia at age 58. It is heartbreaking - but as Wendy repeats throughout the book every disease has a beginning, middle and end and she was just at the beginning. She had always been a fiercely independent woman - she had been divorced for many years and raised two daugthers as a single mom struggling t ...more
Karin Jenkins
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You wouldn’t think you’d stay up late to finish a book about Dementia but that’s what I did last night, I was so caught up in Wendy’s story. An excellent description of how this terrible illness changes a life, the clever ways she copes and the things that do and don’t help. Think of it as a companion volume to Still Alice but British and true.
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
A brave woman. Hope she is doing well.
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
very thought provoking. a new and enlightening insight into the world of dementia
Kristine Sander
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A most important read

This has been a most enlightening read for me.The BBC 4 audiobook series made me curious about the writer describing her path of dementia. Thanks to the courage and determination of Wendy Mitchell she managed to raise the awareness of this disease in a personal way.This is useful for all readers, determined to learn to communicate and interact with sufferers in a natural way without second guessing.
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A truly amazing book. So emotional and well written. I’m so glad I read it, it was a journey where I learnt a lot about Alzheimer’s. I was mesmerized by how the author managed to see the positive in a terrible situation. When she felt lost, she still tried to discover what she still could do to not leave the world completely. She treasured every memory, any memory when she was still her. The person she used to know.
Yvonne Manson
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wendy gives a moving account of her diagnosis and life. She speaks not just of loses but also of what she has gained. Going into detail about how her life has changed and the things she has given up as well as the things she has found. Her determination comes through with all the adaptions she comes up with to support her independence.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
“It’s sad when the things you continue to do make people question whether you have dementia. They’re not inside my brain to hear or see the hallucinations. Would it make them feel better to see me on a foggy day, the type where I curl up under my duvet and hide away from the world? Would that make the disease fit better into the pigeonhole they’ve allocated it?” 1 likes
More quotes…