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Review: 'Elizabeth Is Missing' by Emma Healey

This first novel of professional book binder, Emma Healey , "Elizabeth Is Missing," reveals incredible insights into the minds and hearts of those in varying states of dementia and in those who care for and about them. It leaves me wondering what more might Ms. Healey have in that head of hers, most definitely the mind of a writer and compassionate human being.

"Elizabeth Is Missing" is a work of fiction, but anyone who has interacted with someone with memory deficits would tell you that this could well be a true story.

The story is told through the point of view of the main character, Maud, who finds that writing notes to herself helps to keep her somewhat on track in the present. Maud has concerns about her dear friend, Elizabeth, whom Maud has not seen in quite some time -- or has she, and simply forgotten?

The mystery of Elizabeth in the present becomes entangled with memories of a mystery in Maud's childhood, that of the disappearance of her older sister, Sukey. Maud is certain if she can hold onto her thoughts long enough to process the questions, she will find the answers she seeks.

Unfortunately for Maud, as is so often the case with memory impairments, her ability to hold onto thoughts in the present begins to erode over time, so much so that she is no longer safe to live in her own home.

It might seem that such a novel would be dreary, but this is not the case. Healey has found a way to tell Maud's story by interjecting subtle and appropriate humor. The reader, living through Maud's eyes, is treated to what it may be like in the thoughts of someone living through memory loss. It is a poignant story.

If you're up to the task of better understanding memory impairment, albeit fictionally, I wholeheartedly suggest reading "Elizabeth Is Missing."

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MegL wrote on October 28, 2014, 1:56 PM

That sounds like a very interesting story.

paigea wrote on October 28, 2014, 2:12 PM

It sounds like a book I would enjoy. Dementia is a big part of my family history.

alexdg1 wrote on October 28, 2014, 2:35 PM

My mom is exhibiting signs of dementia and Sundowner's Syndrome, which is making it tough for me to have a good night's rest. Last night was one of those difficult ones in which certain things occurred that robbed me of sleep, rest, and peace of mind.

Feisty56 wrote on October 28, 2014, 5:24 PM

I found it interesting, heartwarming, disconcerting and sad all rolled together. As a long-term care nurse, I've had the pleasure of giving care to a great number of folks in various stages of dementia, so I could easily relate with Maud.

Feisty56 wrote on October 28, 2014, 5:27 PM

It's a story that sees resolutions in two of the central issues, but not in Maud's memory impairment. As some of us know only too well, there usually isn't much an improvement once dementia sets in in earnest.

Feisty56 wrote on October 28, 2014, 5:29 PM

Any chance you'll be able to get an outside caregiver to come in at night occasionally so you can get some much-needed rest? If I were in your position, I know I would be beside myself at times, just with your mother's illness and condition alone, let alone your half-sister who gives only half-hearted help.

Ellis wrote on October 28, 2014, 7:27 PM

The picture on the cover of the book is very emotive...

Feisty56 wrote on October 28, 2014, 9:39 PM

This is the U.S. version of the book cover; at the author's site you can view the book covers for other countries if you're interested. : )

Ellis wrote on October 28, 2014, 9:56 PM

The Dutch cover is quite good but I prefer the open door cover...

OldRoadsOnceTraveled wrote on October 29, 2014, 12:30 AM

Anyone who can tell an intriguing story centered around memory loss without it becoming too depressing certainly must be a skilled writer.

BarbRad wrote on October 29, 2014, 2:13 AM

You review the best books. This is another one I will have to put on my list of thing to read.

Feisty56 wrote on October 29, 2014, 9:31 AM

That sums up this novel, and its author, quite nicely and accurately.

Feisty56 wrote on October 29, 2014, 9:32 AM

This book was a pleasant surprise, considering the subject matter of dementia. It's Healey's first novel, but I hope it isn't her last.