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Remind Me Who I Am, Again

Remind Me Who I Am, Again by Linda Grant

ISBN10: 1847082696
ISBN13: 978-1847082695
Author: Linda Grant
Book title: Remind Me Who I Am, Again
Publisher: Granta UK; Reprint edition (May 1, 2011)
Language: English
Category: Medicine
Size PDF: 1673 kb
Size ePub: 1386 kb
Size Fb2: 1912 kb
Rating: 4.6/5
Votes: 859
Pages: 320 pages

Remind Me Who I Am, Again by Linda Grant

An Orange Prize winner and Booker prize nominee tells the story of her mother's memory loss to Alzheimer's, and her own quest to not let her family history vanish along with it Here, prizewinning author Linda Grant tells the story of her mother's gradual but devastating mental deterioration, her diagnosis as a victim of Alzheimer's disease, and her family's struggle to come to terms with the catastrophic impact of the disease. Immensely moving, at times darkly comic, and searingly honest, it combines biography and memoir in a unique examination of the profound questions of identity, memory, and autonomy that dementia raises.


If you have a relative struggling with memory problems, don't miss this first person memoir by a talented author who cared for her memory-impaired mother for many years.

US readers may be a little wistful about the UK's better long-term care system. But more accessible institutions really can't erase the sadness of the whole situation, and I found the womens' struggles so easy to empathize with.

Literally couldn't put it down. It's a keeper.

I found it very interesting reading, not only from a non-Jewish perspective, the development and progression of the illness but also the ambivalence of feelings following a history of emotional neglect. To me it seemed a very honest interpretation.

I thought this was a thoughtful, touching memoir written by a daughter about her Mother. I wish she would have written more about the two of them.

Linda Grant, a feature writer for the Guardian [UK], has written a memoir about memory, focusing both on the loss of her family's history as the older generations die off and the deterioration of her mother's mind due to Multi-Infarct Dementia [MID], which stifles short-term memory and gradually scrambles older recollections. The book is also a intensely personal struggle against the guilt and helplessness one feels when making the necessary decision to commit a loved one to an institution.

Grant is descended from Jewish immigrants who arrived from Russian and Poland and settled in Britain and America before the Second World War. (Many of her family's relatives who remained behind were, of course, killed by the Nazis.) A somewhat rebellious daughter during the heady and reckless Sixties, she soon realizes that all those stories that used to bore her as a child will soon be lost forever: "My mother, the last of her generation, was losing her memory," she mourns. "In a hundred years there will no one left alive who remembers her, who can tell you who she was.... Without the past we're nothing, we belong to nobody." All that remain are a few scattered photographs and letters lacking any basic context and the occasional recollection that her mother summons up out of the blue and whose authenticity Grant can no longer verify.

The second aspect of the book is the most moving--and the most laudable. Grant recounts the frustrations and the episodes that led her and her sister to intercede and commit their mother to a care center, and she describes the legal and bureaucratic obstacles that nearly prevented them from making this step. What makes this decision particularly difficult--and, to some strangers, hardhearted--is that her mother is capable of periods of perfect lucidity and social grace. Grant describes how, while her mother's domestic conditions and intellectual capacity deteriorated to the point where she became a danger to herself, she retained an acute awareness of how she appeared to others as well as "the basest, most acquisitive part of ourselves"--the urge to go shopping: "So we shop together, outside time, mother and daughter united each in our own purposeful quest to do what we have always done, and which to her goes on making sense."

What keeps this book from surrendering to guilt and self-pity is Grant's admirable sense of humor--some of her sketches are heart-achingly funny--as well as the research that lends its framework an aura of objectivity. "Remind Me Who I Am, Again" certainly provides comfort and advice to relatives of those with aging family members, but it is also a valuable read to anyone who cares about individual memory and family history.

I listened to Linda Grant on National Public Radio, Fresh Air program yesterday. Very interesting and moving.
I can relate to it as my father went thru a similar decline over a 3 year period. He suffered from TIA "mini-strokes" that slowly diminish selected brain capabilities, many times without the victim's or family's knowledge. Linda relates a similar experience. It's frustrating in not ever really knowing what is going on inside his ticker when you speak. It's frustrating to know that each person loses different capabilities at different times. It drags you down, with everything seeming so one-sided. It's frustrating that modern medicine is essentially powerless to stop this degeneration, with no effective tools or strategy.
Linda is much more articulate than I could be in describing the same experience I went through.
If it does nothing more, it gives those of us a comparative basis by which to judge our own decisions in similar circumstances.
For those who have been thru this, it gives us someone to relate to. For those who have not, it prepares you. As a boomer, I've finally graduated to what I call 'adulthood': where we are sandwiched between two generations who both depend upon us. Calling the experience overwhelming only begins to describe it.
Worth the read.

'Remind Me Who I Am, Again' is a memoir written by Linda Grant about her mother who suffers from vascular dementia (which is brought about by a series of small strokes). It's a bit of a English Jewish family history going back a couple of generations, complete with old B&W photos (but only in the beginning). But mostly, it's about Ms. Grant's troubled history with her mother and how dementia compounds those problems.

It tends to ramble, and the family history bits aren't written in a way that would necessarily be interesting to a non-family member. There are bits in the middle where she appears to get lazy and just quotes her journal, all in italics and fragmentary sentences. And there are sections in the end which just throw in random family members and their history and that's pretty boring. But Ms. Grant has a charming and informal if frantic style of writing, so I found RMWIAA relatively easy to read, despite a sometimes irritating unawareness. Despite all the research she's apparently done (and she quotes it in a style reminiscent of a high school essay), she's unable to attribute her mother's (atrocious) behaviour to brain damage, and instead keeps blaming it all on her personality and a return to a "childish" stage. Then again, if I had a mother like that, maybe I wouldn't be able to look past it either.

Either way, I wish it had been edited (hello Granta editor) and presented more evenly and interestingly because Ms. Grant does have writing talent and stories to tell. I got through this one only because of my interest in stories about memory loss, but wouldn't have otherwise.

Didn't like the book at all.
Doesn't help that she refers to Jewish people as "shouty Jews" in the Guardian online.
Skip this one.