Sunday 8 May 2016

Book ~ "The Day We Met" (2015) Rowan Coleman

From Goodreads ~ The name of your first-born. The face of your lover. Your age. Your address …

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 starts to write her Memory Book, she already knows that this scrapbook of mementoes will soon be all her daughters and husband have of her. In her mid-40s, Claire is scared and increasingly confused by the world around her, struggling to hold onto her identity as thoughts of her mother, her daughters and her husband grow fuzzier every day. Fearing what will happen if those memories fade altogether, her family’s gift of a red sketchpad is her most treasured possession. As they fill it with scenes from a joyous life lived together, Claire again experiences the ecstatic highs and terrible lows of a life well lived: full of heartbreak and love, tears and laughter.

Claire was a single mother approaching 40 with a teenage daughter (Caitlin) when she met Greg, a contractor who was younger than she was.  They fell in love, had a child (Esther) together and got married.  Then Claire discovered that she has early onset Alzheimer's.  Her mother, Ruth, moves in with them to take care of her, just as she had taken care of her husband (Claire's father) before he died of the same disease when Claire was young.

For a while, Claire is able to live a normal life.  But her illness forces her to quit her job as a teacher and she isn't allowed to drive anymore.  In the beginning, Claire occasionally loses touch with reality but it gets progressively worse as time goes on.  To help her preserve her memories, Greg gives her a book and it becomes a family project.

As Claire gets worse, everyone does everything they can to keep an eye on her but she manages to get out of the house and then ends up confused some place somewhere else in time.  Did a minute pass or was it a couple hours?  Claire has no idea.  As 20-year-old Caitlin deals with her mother's illness, she has some additional issues in her own life to contend with.

This is the first book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it.  It's written in first person from various perspectives ... Claire, Greg, Caitlin and Ruth.  When it's from Claire's perspective, it's when she is having a good day but also when she isn't ... she can't remember how to read to Esther or even the name of that thing you pour water down in the kitchen (a sink).

I liked the characters and felt for them (especially Greg because eventually Claire doesn't remember her feelings for him and shuts him out).  I found three-year-old Esther a bit annoying at times.  I liked that she and Claire became childlike conspirators but I would have thought that a three-year-old would have had a better grasp of the English language than she did.

I look forward to reading other books by this author.

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