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Elizabeth Is Missing
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Archive: Other Books > Elizabeth is Missing - Emmay Healey - 2 stars (Decathalon)

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message 1: by Susie (last edited Jun 17, 2018 09:10PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Susie | 4488 comments Meh. That's how I felt about this book. It is told from the perspective of an 82-year-old woman, Maud, who is suffering from dementia and obsesses over her friend Elizabeth who she believes to be missing. The story jumps back to memories of her childhood when her sister disappeared. At the beginning of the story Maud lives alone, with carers coming to look after her throughout the day, including her daughter and granddaughter. Her dementia worsens as the book progresses and we are given insight in to the thought processes of someone suffering from extreme memory loss.

The front cover of the copy that I read said 'Outstanding.'. Nope. 'Unforgettable'. Nope, and I hope it wasn't meant to be a pun. 'Very good indeed'. Not really. 'Will stir and shake you'. That it did not. 'Thrillingly assured, haunting, unsettling.'. They obviously haven't read Cormac McCarthy if they think this was any of those things. And finally, 'Gripping, haunting'. I did find myself gripping the ereader to keep from dropping it as I fell asleep from boredom, but the story itself? No.

I shall try to unpack my feelings about this book. Both of my parents suffer from dementia, my father from Alzheimer's and my mother from vascular dementia. In terms of the accuracy of the portrayal of a dementia sufferer, I think Healey did a really good job. If felt authentic to me, and I know dementia very well. I found her ability to convey the difficulties and frustrations for the carers to be true to life too. Healey was able to hone in on the need for patience and compassion, and for that I thank her as it can be easy to forget that if it is hard for us as family members, imagine how hard it is for the person suffering from dementia.

BUT. The book was repetitive. I felt as though she spent the bulk of the novel hammering home the thoughts of Maud, without much finesse or intricacy. I understand the amount of research that must have gone in to writing this book, but the plot itself was VERY light on. The book is touted as a mystery but I could tell what was going to happen very early on. I was ultimately left feeling bored and frustrated. Had I not chosen to read this as my Decathalon book I probably would have set it free before finishing. I do wonder if my interest was lessened by the fact that this is something I live and breathe on a daily basis, as others seem to have enjoyed it way more than I.

Regarding my choice to read this as my June Decathalon book, I have had many significant life events occur in the past decade, some wonderful and some not so. My children were born, in fact my eldest child was born ten years ago this Saturday. I made the decision to be a stay at home mother until they went to school. My youngest child was diagnosed with and Autism Spectrum Disorder. I celebrated my ten year wedding anniversary.

I initially was going to choose motherhood as my topic but funnily enough my mother recommended this book to me many years ago when she read it herself in 2014, before her memory issues became apparent. It seemed like the right book to choose, as the decline in my parents' health has been so life changing for me, particularly in the past twelve months as my father had a stroke and both of them moved in to aged care. I hope to read another book that does the topic more justice that I feel Elizabeth is Missing has done. To date Still Alice has touched me more than any other.

message 2: by Idit (new)

Idit | 1028 comments Thanks for sharing! It makes it special that your read it after your mum's recommendation, and it's a pity the author didn't know what to do with the story - especially since by your great review it sounds like she actually wrote well about dementia itself.
Hope you find a better book.

I feel like I've stumbled on a lot of books dealing with aging lately (but it might just be that I notice it more, not that they write about it more)

message 3: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tstan) | 1238 comments Terrific review- I agree about Still Alice.
I’m sorry you’re going through this with both of your parents. It’s so heartbreaking to see someone lose their memories and capabilities. Kudos to you for taking good care of them and getting them what they need- you’re a brave woman! I hope your kids see and appreciate your example.

My mother in law suffered from dementia- probably Alzheimer’s, and the family went through a lot. Most of all my father in law, who covered for her so well, we didn’t even know her memory was fading until he died. Thankfully, she never reached the point where she completely forgot her kids.

I wish you luck with your folks and joy in the little victories with them. Keep your chin up!

message 4: by Joi (new) - added it

Joi (missjoious) | 3834 comments Oh no!! This will not be going on my TBR mountain!
Irregardless of the star rating, a fabulous review. I feel like I got to know you a little better just by reading your review of this book <3

Susie | 4488 comments Thanks guys. 😊

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