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Review: The Living End

February 7, 2013

The Living End

Robert Leleux was blessed with a flamboyant mother and a larger-than-life grandmother and he loved them both dearly.   They weren’t so crazy about each other, though, so they didn’t speak to each other for most of his life.  When his beloved grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2005, Robert was devastated but determined to spend as much time with her and take the best care of her he could.  For his birthday, he asked his mother to join him at his grandparents’ and she reluctantly agreed.  Because his grandmother had forgotten much of the past, Robert’s mother and grandmother were able to forge a new relationship before his grandmother’s death.

The Living End: A Memoir of Forgetting and Forgetting, by Robert Leleux is a beautifully written book about discovering joy in the midst of pain.  It’s about accepting those we love for who they are, no matter the circumstances.  I admired Robert’s ability to see the positive in such a heartbreaking time.

Alzheimer’s is often referred to as “a second childhood.” It’s a phrase that used to offend me, since it’s often delivered with disrespect.  But from another perspective, it can be pretty profound.  When small children fall, they cry, and in five minutes they’ve forgotten all about it.  This sort of resilience seems so impossible in adulthood, but my grandmother taught me the importance of forgetting.

Robert’s love for his grandmother and mother are evident in the pages of this wonderful book, and so is his pain when his grandmother was stricken with dementia.  I shed a tear or two as I read the book since Robert puts so much emotion in the story.  At 133 pages, it could be a quick read but I spent a little time with it since I wanted to savor the writing.  Robert Leleux has a way with words!   If someone you love suffers from dementia, The Living End is a must read.  Those who love memoirs and family stories should enjoy it as well.

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2013 4:22 am

    I just finished a book which dealt with a grandmothers trauma with senile dementia and the grand daughters effort to handle the situation as best as she could. This is on similar lines as well. The book (Guppies for Tea by Marika Cobbold) was an eye opener for me personally.

  2. February 7, 2013 6:18 am

    I doubt there’s anyone who doesn’t have a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s. I’m going to look for this book because I think it sounds wonderful.

  3. February 7, 2013 9:06 am

    I don’t know why but I tend not to want to read these books. Probably because I’m afraid I will be in that situation one day!

  4. February 7, 2013 9:31 am

    Oh, I would love to read this one! I have seen the changes dementia brings about in families, and trying to see the positive side can bring about moments of unexpected joy. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention!

  5. February 7, 2013 11:41 am

    This sounds touching and seems like a positive book. Very nice review, Kathy!

  6. zibilee permalink
    February 7, 2013 11:56 am

    I think I would enjoy this one, but not right at the moment. I do really like books that explore family dynamics and relationships, but right now I am looking for lighter fare. You do make it sound excellent though!

  7. bookingmama permalink
    February 7, 2013 11:59 am

    I’m not sure I could handle this one right now….

  8. February 7, 2013 2:09 pm

    This is definitely going on my TBR list. Thank you for sharing, because if you hadn’t, I wouldn’t have known about it. It will be an emotional read for me since both my Mom and Grandmother both suffered with dementia in their final years. I will be prepared to have a box of tissue nearby.

  9. February 7, 2013 5:42 pm

    This one sounds amazing. Alzheimer’s is such a hideous disease. Watching my grandfather’s essence leave on a daily basis just about killed my mom. I would like to read this one.

  10. February 7, 2013 6:15 pm

    Thanks for sharing this, Kathy.

  11. February 7, 2013 7:58 pm

    Oh my goodness, this sounds so touching. It’s going on my wishlist. My grandma suffered from dementia and that quote you posted at the end “my grandmother taught me the importance of forgetting”….made me tear up.
    Great review.

  12. Patty permalink
    February 7, 2013 8:17 pm

    It sounds beautiful!

  13. February 7, 2013 8:56 pm

    Glad you enjoyed the book. I could not read this right now as we are in the midst of it with both of my husband’s parens.

  14. littlebirdreads permalink
    February 8, 2013 10:37 am

    Thanks for sharing this memoir… this one sounds wonderful.

  15. February 8, 2013 10:59 am

    This sounds like one of those memoirs I would enjoy. I’ll add it to the list.

  16. February 9, 2013 9:02 pm

    i’m not big on memoirs but this one sounds really good! great review!

  17. February 11, 2013 11:00 pm

    This looks touching and sad. Something I might be able to handle for 133 pages.

  18. February 25, 2013 11:06 am

    I don’t know why, but I’m drawn to this sort of memoir and I plan to add it to my TBR list. With only 133 pages, it might be a good choice for Dewey’s upcoming Read-a-Thon. Thanks for the recommendation!

  19. boardinginmyforties permalink
    March 8, 2013 7:37 pm

    This sounds really wonderful. I like the idea that relationships that have been fraught with conflict can be healed as a result of dementia. There are really no positives to someone suffering with this disease but it just goes to show you that there are always good things that can come out of bad situations.

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