By: Rachael Herron
Published: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Penguin Random House NAL
Imagine you are a successful 44-year-old woman. You have overcome raising your daughter alone after your husband left you for a younger woman and started a new family. Your newspaper columns have become syndicated and you have authored best-selling books. Your twin sister is finally becoming successful in her own right and your next door neighbor is a "friend with benefits". Life is grand until you realize things have started becoming fuzzy. You often find yourself "getting stuck" and can't figure out why. After numerous tests, the doctor reveals your diagnosis, EOAD or Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease. This can't be happening to Nora. She is the Martha Stewart of organization. She is the one who handles everything. She has a 16-year-old daughter who needs her. Nora can't understand why this is happening to her. She can't trace it back to anyone in her family since she doesn't know her father and her mother died young. She can't imagine telling her twin sister, Mariana and her daughter, Ellie. What if they have it too? What will happen to her family, her career, and all of their futures?
EOAD is a horrible disease that wrecks the minds of people still in the prime of their life. As you follow Nora through her early stages of diagnosis, you realize this isn't going to be a happy story. We know there possibly can't be a happy ending. Even though there have been advances in medicine, there is not a cure for Alzheimer's.
I found myself moving slowly through the pages because I wasn't looking forward to the ending. I didn't want to read the debilitating changes in Nora's life; from yelling at her daughter, to getting lost downtown, to eventually losing her job. I didn't want to watch Nora lose control of her life. So, I too became stuck, like Nora, in this book. I didn't want to read further, but I didn't want to stop either.
Then, at some point in the story, I realized this story wasn't really just about the EOAD, but about the relationship between Nora and her twin sister, between Nora and her daughter, and the three of them as a family. I became overcome with emotion as I struggled with Mariana and Ellie accepting the loss of someone so dearly loved. As a mother, my heart broke for Ellie, who had to grow up much too fast. As a professional, I suffered alongside Nora as she feared losing the ability to say or write the right words. I loved the honest way Nora described the disease:
"I'm on a merry, go, round, and someone's pushing it and I can't jump off
because I'll die if I do, but the problem is that it's speeding up,
and in time it's going to throw me.
I'm smart enough to know that,
and not smart enough to figure out how to get off." Page 205-206
"Nora was flaking apart, iron left to rust in acid rain." Page 358
Even though this story is sad and difficult to read, Herron has found a way to leave "Splinters of Light" throughout the sadness and despair. She has found a way for happiness and joy to still be felt among the anger and illness. She has found a way to express the deep love between the three women in this story. Ultimately, she has written this book so the reader can relate to the bond between the sisters, the devotion of a mother, and the horrible disease that has come between all of it.
|Rachael Herron - source|
Rachael Herron is the internationally bestselling author of the novel PACK UP THE MOON, the five book Cypress Hollow romance series, and the memoir, A LIFE IN STITCHES. She received her MFA in writing from Mills College, and when she's not busy writing, she's a 911 fire/medical dispatcher for a Bay Area fire department. She lives with her wife, Lala, in Oakland, California, where they have more animals and instruments than are probably advisable. Rachael is struggling to learn the accordion and can probably play along with you on the ukulele. She's a New Zealander as well as an American. She's been known to knit. For more on Rachael Herron, check out her website, http://www.yarnagogo.com/. You can also find her on Facebook, HERE and Twitter, HERE.
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