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The Story of My Father

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  352 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
In the fall of 1988, Sue Miller found herself caring for her father, James Nichols, once a truly vital man, as he succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease. Beginning an intensely personal journey, she recalls the bitter irony of watching this church historian wrestle with his increasingly befuddled notion of time and meaning. She details the struggles with doctors, her own choices ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published June 8th 2004 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published January 1st 2003)
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Mar 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the novelist Sue Miller's account of her father's struggle with Alzheimer's disease and his eventual death. But it is also about Miller's relationship with him before he became ill, and about her relationship with her mother, who predeceased him by many years (she died of a heart attack at age 60). The book is incredibly introspective, and while that's not unusual for a memoir, what I really appreciated about this one was Miller's focus on how and why she wrote the memoir in the first pl ...more
Joan Winnek
Apr 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I admire this memoir especially for its ending, the insights Sue Miller developed as she completed the third and final draft of this, her only book-length work of non-fiction. Throughout, it is a sensitive portrait of her father and all that made him uniquely himself. His decline into Alzheimer's and his death are terrifying but finally not terrible. Everyone would wish to be remembered with as much clarity and love.
Patty King
Apr 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
I read this after burying my own father, who also had Alzheimer's Disease. It was a great comfort.
Nov 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is Sue Miller's memoir of her father and their journey through Alzheimer's. Not an easy read; however, her writing style and the insights she learned through her research into this epidemic that seems to have touched everyone in some manner, was a very compelling read.
The Story of My Father is written with such a feel for Sue Miller's compelling need to share her father's journey, but also and maybe even more so, to learn more about who her father was as she wrote about losing "who" he was
Jul 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
I've really enjoyed Sue Miller's fiction and had high hopes for this one. I'm sad to say it fell flat for me. The whole book felt like it kept starting and stopping, and she spent so much time explaining to the reader what the memoir was going to be about, or not be about. The book felt really self-conscious and self-indulgent (and yes, I do feel like a horrible person for saying that about a book describing her father's decline into Alzheimer's, but there you have it). It occurs to me that perh ...more
Feb 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Sull by: Library find.
This was very good, following Sue Miller on her sometimes funny, mostly difficult & often painful journey to bear witness to her father's final years of Alzheimers decline. She's unfailingly honest & digs deep into her own actions & reactions with her dad as he morphed from a lovely, gentle academic into a lost & occasionally troubled soul waiting for the end. The end mercifully comes for Alzheimers folks, accelerating as one faculty after another becomes impaired & dysfuncti ...more
Stacy LeVine
Oct 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is, without question, the most depressing book I have ever read. Excuse me whilst I curl up in the fetal position and cry for a few hours.
Sep 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderfully written memoir by Sue Miller about her father's long struggle with Alzheimer's disease. It opened my eyes to the heavy toll this disease takes on the individual and their family. Decisions on what care and living situation is best, not to mention affordable are never easy. I felt bad that she put her sweet father in a nursing home, and she writes candidly about how he struggled with the loss of his cherished books, how disorienting the change in routine and surroundings wer ...more
Sue Miller has written best selling books like “The Good Mother” and “While You Were Gone.” This more personal book is as much her own story as her father’s. As she notes, over the course of writing the book she remembers intensely, then finds herself “revising” some of her long held beliefs about her father. Some of this comes down to giving more consideration to her father’s belief in God.

She sees her father as a Christian so much in God’s hands from the start that he accepted all, including
lee lee
Nov 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to lee lee by: Bob & Sally
Despite its physical size (I read it in one day), this book deals with one of life's heaviest issues: how to care for a dying parent. The fact that Sue and her father had a loving relationship to begin with makes a huge difference in her ability, her compassion, her humanity to do this difficult task with love and respect. It's not a leg up that I would have in the same situation, so my memoir would probably be the one that got put away and not written (as she says in the final chapter). I respe ...more
Feb 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, dementia, aging
Miller describes her father's progression through various stages of Alzheimer's Disease and includes details about his life and her relationship with him throughout her life span.

I have read a few memoirs by children whose parents have Alzheimer's. This offers another voice to that discussion. I admit that I read with less care the chapters that did not discuss AD (about 1/3 of the book). If a person is going to read 20 AD memoirs, this should be included, but if they are only going to read 5, t
Bev Walkling
This is a very personal story of one man's descent into Alzheimer's disease told from the perspective of his daughter. This is a journey that I have walked with my mother so I could easily identify with many of the things she had to say. I chose to handle some things differently, but was always an advocate on my mom's behalf as Sue Miller was for her father. This is a disease where you grieve over and over the ongoing losses and when all is done it is easy to question whether there was more you ...more
Two Readers in Love
A memoir that can be read purely as literature, and as a guide for those caring for a loved one with dementia; not a self-help guide, surely, but more like the travel guides of old. By telling her highly-specific story in such detail, it becomes universal. Miller gives the reader a coin for Charon from someone who has already crossed the river.

However, even if you have no interest in Alzheimer's, this memoir is worth reading as an investigation of the narratives we impose on our lives, and the l
Tom Ferguson
Feb 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book took me back through the death of my father (dementia, stroke), my son-in-law (cancer) and my mother (dementia, cancer) and caused me to, once again, relive their partings. Sue Miller does an excellent job of capturing the anxiety, helplessness, and fear that loss brings. Further I believe she captures much of the essence of dementia in the way it robs people of their self. She captures the family trauma, guilt and self doubt that being a care giver entails. On a personal level this wa ...more
Nov 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
I liked this book but I came away with somewhat of a negative feeling toward Sue Miller because she put her father in a nursing home. Her father had been an academic and even in senility he was a sweet, gentle spirit who, as I recall, did not create big problems in his dotage. It was downhill for him after being relegated to a nursing home and he died soon after. I know I have not walked in her shoes, but I felt that Sue Miller would have served her father better by continuing to care for him at ...more
Mar 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The Story of My Father is the only nonfiction book by Sue Miller. It is a memoir of the life of her father focusing on the end of his life as he develops Alzheimer’s disease. The story chronicles the trials and tribulations of a daughter taking care of her father as he slowly fades into the illness. The book is beautifully written and a good education on what happens when caring for a loved one with this degenerative and terminal disease.
Rhonda Williams
Jun 16, 2010 rated it liked it
I loved the way Miller delved into the way that Alzheimer's disease effected her father. She also explained that people don't die from this disease, they waste away. Teir minds are literally gone and they can no longer recall words, simple bodily functions and the reasons why we do things. She did a nice job explaining who her father was as a man, a father and an ultimate prisoner of this horrible disease.
May 20, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a loving tribute to Sue Miller's father who died after suffering the indignities of Alzheimer's. Sue miller doesn't usually write in the first person and this felt a little forced. I'm sure it was therapeutic for the author but it seemed a little self-indulgent. It seems counter-intuitive but I kept thinking this would have been more powerful if Miller had used a fictional format for her catharsis. Still, she is a good writer and this is worth reading.
Ann Spivack
Oct 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Miller describes poignantly how her father changes when he is affected by Alzheimer's. One interesting point to me was the difference in how Miller describes her mother -- she shows anger, irritation, and fear when she talks about her mother but affection and understanding with her dad. The mother in The Distinguished Guest was based on her mother. Both books -- really all of Sue Miller's books -- are well worth reading.
Carole Yeaman
The clearest depiction of the process of Alzheimer's anyone has written.

The "Afterword" describes many of the difficulties of writing in general, and of writing THIS book in particular, and why it took her over a decade to get it right. Meanwhile she wrote three other novels. (Some of which I plan to read very soon). Four & a half stars.
Jan 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
The second half of this book is why I read it. It describes not only her father's descent into Alzheimer's, but her coping and managing of the day to day struggle for him and for her. The afterword and reader's guide are also very powerful, explaining her own transition and grief following her father's death.
Aug 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs
This is a really sad and gut-wrenching memoir. It always is when it you have to deal with illness and coming to terms with it. I truly appreciate this book because now I know a bit more about AD, and like Ms Miller said in her book, she wrote this not only for herself but for other people dealing with this, who have loved ones suffering from AD, to know they are not alone.
Bryan Mcguirk
Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book is written in simple declarative prose , but conveys the heartbreak the author suffers as she is forced to care for her father , who suffers from alzheimers .
anyone who reads this book will understand the importance of family .
Jul 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
Superb. Intriguing. Bittersweet. Miller recalls her thoughts and insecurities during her father's neurological decline. Therapeutic and allowed her closure - it is so incredibly touching.

Reminds me of grandpa.
Kate Thompson
Saw her on tour with this book at Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa City, 2003. A very romantic date, attending a reading about a father with Alzheimers. I've enjoyed the two books of hers I've read - While I Was Gone and The Good Mother.
Mar 01, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: All
Recommended to Peter by: I like this author

First time author speaks truly in the first person and she had a hard time doing so, as she describes in Epilogue.
It is about her relationship with her father, focusing on his Alzheimer's, dying and death. It’s not as depressing as you might think. It’s reflective and I liked it.
Ellen Marchessault
Feb 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: alzheimer-s
This was a difficult book to read for me, so soon after my own father's death. Although my dad didn't suffer from Alzheimer's, I am acquainted with the disease to some extent. I enjoy the author's fiction and her writing style.
Jul 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Becky by: Carol
This had new insights on Alzheimer's that I had not come across in other books. Well written and insightful about a daughter's experience with a father who has the disease. Thanks, Carol, for the recommendation.
Robin Moore
Mar 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
This too can be a tough read due to the subject matter. I attended a reading given by the author, which added to my appreciation for the book.
Feb 14, 2008 rated it liked it
A touching and realistic non-fiction account of caring for her father through Alzheimer's disease.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Sue Miller is an American novelist and short story writer who has authored a number of best-selling novels. Her duties as a single mother left her with little time to write for many years, and as a result she did not publish her first novel until 1986, after spending almost
More about Sue Miller...
“And suddenly it seemed utterly right to me that resistance had been his wish, his intention. It made a kind of emotional sense that caused me to feel, instantly, how little sense my earlier more or less unframed assumptions had made. Of course! I thought. And with that thought it was as though my father stepped forward to meet me as he had been in 1940: twenty-five years old, newly married, teaching literature and history and religion as his first real job, as an assistant professor at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. That stage of his life – and he in it – had always been indistinct to me, as the lives of parents before their children exist always are to those children; but now, holding this letter in my hands, I remembered anew and vividly the numerous photographs in our family albums of him then – a slender young man, intense-looking and handsome, with a shock of dark hair swept back from his high forehead. A radical young man, it would seem. More radical in many ways than my own son was now. A young man, ready, perhaps even eager to embrace the fate his powerful beliefs were calling him to. Sitting there, I felt a rush of love and pity for him in his youth, in his passionate convictions – really, the same feelings I often had for my son when he argued his heartfelt positions. Abruptly, they seemed alike to me and equally dear: my father, my son. I felt as though my father had been waiting for this moment to be born to me as the young man he’d been, so touchingly willing to bear witness to his conscience; and the surprise of this new sense of him, this birth, was a gift to me, a sudden balm in those days of my most intense grief.” 4 likes
“Doggone, I never thought I’d lose my mind.” I was startled at the time to realize this – that he had thought about it. But now that he is dead…it’s my turn to think of it – of death – and I do. I wonder how it will come to me. And when I do, I remember this moment; when my father seemed to be getting the news about his fate, about how it would b e for him, when he took it in and accepted it and was, somehow, interested in it, all at the same time, before my eyes. It was a moment as characteristic of him as any I can think of in his life, and as brave. Noble, really, I’ve come to feel.” 2 likes
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