Book Name: Disease: When Life Takes an Unexpected Turn
Author: Hans Hirschi
Release Date: October 26, 2017 Price: $4.99
Reviewed by Elaine
Cover Art: At first glance, the cover appears to be overwhelmingly dark and gloomy. There is a lone tree in a field, nearly eclipsed by the darkness of the approaching storm. However, there are rays of sunshine that shine through the clouds. To me, this perfectly represents the theme of the book. Yes, Alzheimer’s is an increasingly dark journey, but the sun breaking through the clouds reminds us, there are good days. The title and author’s name are in a bold, white font that is easily read.
Synopsis: The blurb is compact and precise. It is about Alzheimer’s and how it affects the afflicted as well as the impact on their loved ones’ lives.
Main Characters: Hunter MacIntyre, journalist
Ethan Donner, teacher
We meet Hunter as his world implodes when he is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. By page two, tears are streaming down my cheeks as we meet Ethan. He is Hunter’s lover, his husband, half of his entire world. To say that I can feel the character’s emotions doesn’t even scratch the surface. The depth of despair and the formatting immerse you into Hunter’s world in the first two sentences.
Secondary Characters: The secondary characters are what keeps Hunter fighting for his future. His husband and their daughter Amy, Hunter’s parents, and sister are first and foremost in Hunter’s thoughts. Amy especially is pivotal to the decisions that are thrust upon Hunter as his disease progresses.
Plot: The plot is simple yet brutal. Hunter is dying. He captures his thoughts, fears, and experiences in a journal that he keeps on his computer which Ethan graciously shares with us after its discovery.
Flow/Continuity: The flow of the book is done at a steady pace, however, due to the depth of feeling I had to put the book down a couple of times to process my emotions.
Conflict and Climax: How do you face a future where nurses are taking care of you, intimately touching you when a stranger’s touch is abhorrent to you? Especially a woman’s touch? Who will take care of your loved ones? Hunter wants to believe he has choices and control over his illness. The climax is obvious, but special care is taken with the falling action that leaves us a little less heartbroken.
Writing Style and Formatting: The story is written in first person, alternating view. Our main character Hunter is speaking to us through a journal that he kept during his illness. Ethan, his husband, has decided to share Hunter’s private thoughts but alternates with sharing his own commentary. Ethan’s portion is entirely in italics so that the transition from Hunter to Ethan is readily apparent. The point of view changes were smooth and never took me out of the story.
Editing: The book was edited well, there were no issues found.
Conclusion: I am no stranger to illness or loss, but this novel had me questioning everything I thought I knew. The absolute reality of what a dementia patient experiences versus a disease that doesn’t affect cognizance is startling, and ultimately very thought-provoking. What really stuck with me was how Ethan’s voice changes from despair and grief at the initial diagnosis, to more withdrawn and clinical as the disease progresses. How does a spouse handle it when their partner goes from adult to child? The author’s ability to capture the devastating journey of Alzheimer’s is truly remarkable. From the initial diagnosis, loss of intimacy, changed memories, paranoia, the guilt and gradual loss of Ethan’s name – the stages of the disease are incredibly detailed. This was an absolutely remarkable book, candid and devastating, and I highly recommend it.
A truly outstanding work of art. I give this a 10 out of 10.