In recognition of World Alzheimer's Day on September 21, here are some notable novels featuring characters affected by Alzheimer's disease, a disease that has touched so many families here in Canada and around the world.
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey is a gripping mystery with not one, but two gone girls. Maud, a British pensioner, is convinced that her best friend, Elizabeth, is missing. The police, her children, and her caregiver won't listen to her. Even worse, Maud has chilling flashbacks about her sister, Sukey, who vanished 50 years earlier. But here’s the thing: Maud is in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. Her sleuthing becomes a race against time – she must find Elizabeth and solve the mystery of Sukey's disappearance before her memory slips away for good. Shifting between post-War Britain and the present, this story is told with grace and empathy as it depicts the fierce (and on occasion, fatal) connections that exist between friends, lovers and family. Despite the novel’s unflinching look at the cruelty of Alzheimer’s disease, Maud’s intelligence and dignity shine through in her search for the truth. You will end up cheering for Maud – right up to the shocking conclusion. Also available in eBook.
Other great reads featuring strong characters battling Alzheimer's disease:
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Alice Howland, a Harvard professor diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, struggles to maintain her sense of self and her independence. The film based on this novel was screened at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival and will be released in 2015.
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro
"The Bear Came Over the Mountain" is a short story from Munro's award-winning collection. Fiona is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and moves into a nursing home. Her husband, Grant, is devastated when Fiona no longer remembers him and begins a relationship with another resident. Away From Her, directed by Sarah Polley, was based on this story and won a Genie for Best Picture.
Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante
Dr. Jennifer White, a former surgeon suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's disease, finds herself accused of murdering her best friend, Amanda.
The Memory Artists by Jeffrey Moore
- Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
Noel Buren is a scientist with a neurological condition that gives him near-perfect recall. Along with his group of eccentric friends, he begins his search for a cure for his mother's Alzheimer's disease. This touching story won the Canadian Author's Association Prize for Best Fiction.