Tag Archives: illness

Review: The Long Hello and Looking Into Your Voice

Recap: It’s a growing disease and it’s one of the most devastating, not only for victims, but for their families as well: Alzheimer’s Disease. In two books, Cathie Borrie details her experience with the disease, from which her mother was suffering. Borrie recorded many of the conversations she had with her mother, most of which don’t make sense and confuse her mother. But many of them also reveal an underlying layer of wisdom that her mother maintains, despite her memory loss. They also depict Borrie’s commendable patience, frustration, and love for her mother.

Looking Into Your Voice is a transcription of these conversations in poetic form. But The Long Hello incorporates the conversations into an overall story, complete with flashbacks and memories from Cathie’s childhood — allowing the reader to understand what her mother was like before the Alzheimer’s took over.

Analysis: The beauty of these books is again, not just an inside look at Cathie’s mother, the Alzheimer’s patient. But it also shows us how the disease affects Cathie, the caretaker. She gives up her life to care for her mother; there is no man, no job, just a commitment that she’ll be with her mother everyday to make sure she makes it through. Not all caretakers are so generous or willing to make that kind of a commitment, but her conversations show how mentally debilitating the disease can be and often, how necessary it is to have someone with an Alzheimer’s patient at all times. Caring for a person with Alzeheimer’s can take a lot of our of a person, both physically and emotionally.

And as angry and frustrated as Cathie gets — especially when she has to remind her mother that no one is going to take her house away from her — she’s always there. I admire her patience with her mother and those repeated, confusing conversations.

I really enjoyed the way Borrie organized her mother’s quotes and conversations in Looking Into Your Voice. It shows that her mother may not be the same person anymore, but she’s still a mother. She’s still able to give advice — in a nonsensical, yet nurturing way. She’s still able to love her daughter — when she recognizes her. She’s inherently a mother, and that never goes away.

MVP: Cathie. Her selflessness is admirable. Her attitude is mostly positive. And when it’s not, we, as readers, can understand why. As someone who has Alzheimer’s in my family, I know how hard it can be to deal with, and I am envious of Cathie’s patience and tender loving care.

Get The Long Hello for $14.99, or on your Kindle for just $8.15.

Get Looking Into Your Voice for $9.99.

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Review: Dear John

Recap: It’s a story we’ve all heard before. Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Boy goes off to war. Sadness ensues. But the story of Dear John goes a little further. Not only must the soldier and protagonist, John, return to his duties in Germany and leave behind his new girlfriend, Savannah. He must also say goodbye to his father, who suffers from Asberger’s syndrome.

Dear John is a love story between John, who’s on leave from the military, and Savannah, who’s building homes during her spring break from UNC. The unlikely two fall in love in just a few weeks. But in that time, Savannah — who is studying psychology at school — points out to John that his father may be autistic. Even though that would explain his father’s isolation and awkwardness, the suggestion erupts into a fight that ultimately brings John and Savannah — and John’s father — closer together.

Before they know it, John and Savannah are two halves of a (very) long-distance relationship. After a year, John returns to Savannah, and though things have changed, their feelings for each other have not. John, once again, goes back to the army. But then September 11th happens. And though he promised Savannah he wouldn’t re-sign, he feels obligated to venture off to Afghanistan. And that one decision is the one that would change both of their lives forever.

Analysis: In true Nicholas Sparks fashion, Dear John is a love story that not only deals with the hardships of love and the questions about fate and destiny, but with disease and chronic illness. The story focuses on the effects of autism, pertaining to John’s father. It also deals with physical illness — cancer — from which Savannah’s friend, Tim, suffers. Throw war on top of that, and you’re dealing with a book that has a lot of heavy issues.

The first part of the book focuses on the love story between the two main characters, but the latter portions are much darker. The characters brood, yearn for each other, and generally make the reader depressed. Not to mention, John and his father are rather likable, but I didn’t love Savannah. She was too much of a “goody-goody,” and an annoying one at that. The problem here is that if I don’t love her, it’s hard for me to understand why John does. Therein lies a major flaw.

I still enjoyed the book regardless. There’s really nothing like a romance — no matter how annoying the characters are. And the parts about the war were also done well. Though I wasn’t a fan of the ending, I understood that it was reality. Sometimes our lives don’t go the way we plan, and sometimes it’s our own fault. But that’s the way it is, and that’s what Dear John is really all about.

MVP: John’s dad. As Savannah blatantly points out throughout the novel, John’s father did an excellent job of raising him, despite his autism. As more and more illnesses are discovered, doctors realize that older patients were overlooked in their youth. That seems to be the case here. When John’s father was young and a little “off,” there was no reason to believe anything was actually wrong with him. The idea of this character is a good one, and Sparks does it the right way.

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