15.2.16

BOOK REVIEW: The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman

The name of your first born.
The face of your lover.
What would happen if your memory of these began to fade?
Is it possible to rebuild your life?
Raise a family? Fall in love again?
When Claire begins to write her memory book she already knows that this scrapbook of mementos will soon be all her daughters and husband have left of her. But how can she hold on to the past when her future is slipping through her fingers...?

Publisher: Ebury
Pages: 375

Rowan Coleman knows exactly how to pull on your heartstrings and The Memory Book is a fantastic and emotional read.
Claire has early-onset Alzheimer's which is completely terrifying as she doesn't know which part of her memory will go next. Some parts disappear but then come back whereas others are lost forever.
Her devoted husband Greg buys her a memory book to write stuff down and stick things in; it is useful for her but she knows it will also be vital for the two daughters she will be leaving behind. Claire also knows that she has a lot to sort out right now; she wants to spend as much time as possible with her youngest daughter who's only three but there is definitely something wrong with her eldest daughter Caitlin and she wants to help her while she still can.
Having had a family member with Alzheimer's, I felt that Rowan Coleman tackled this subject head on but with a great deal of sensitivity and care. She captured the loss of control so well, Claire is almost a prisoner in her own body and mind, there are moments when she is fully aware of what is happening to her and she is so angry and frustrated.
 The Memory Book for me was very much a book about motherhood. Claire's role as a mother sits alongside the relationship she has with her own mother and through it we see the ways in which this relationship changes as we grow up and have our own children. Claire is fully aware that she is almost child-like again to her mother due to the nature of her condition and ultimately that is distressing for them both. Claire is terrified of the impact of her illness on her daughters and that really resonated with me. I know now as a mother that my attitude to illness is totally different; my first thought when ill is how it will effect my daughter and the idea of having a serious illness terrifies me but for her sake rather than mine.
The Memory Book is beautifully written. Rowan Coleman is so wonderful at tackling difficult and sensitive issues whilst delivering characters you can completely invest your emotions in. I highly recommend this book.

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