Book Review: The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman


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Published: 2014

I must start off by apologizing for the 5 stars I have been handing out, seemingly to every book that I have read in the past month. But I am equally as surprised!

I’ve seen this book on Amazon for quite a while now, but what made me buy it were the positive reviews that it has received and the plot summary that I had read. I was a little spooked when I noticed that Lisa Jewel has called it “wonderfully uplifting” because I really disliked her books. I really did not want to read anything resembling her novels, as I found them overly dramatic and insincere.

This book was the complete opposite. I read it in less that 24 hours because I just couldn’t put it down. Finely balanced, making the plot and the lives that the characters lived very believable. It was so well written that I completely bawled my eyes out at the second to last chapter. Actually, now that I recall I cried at several parts.

I felt like I really got to know the main character, Claire, well, and understood the way the disease affected her life. All of the female characters are strong, powerful, free women that are inspiring as they maintain hope and strength despite the challenges and the circumstances that arrive in their lives. I found this quote early on in the novel, which demonstrates the kind of tough female heroines we have in this drama:

“She wasn’t bitter about it. About the abrupt halt that Caitlin’s arrival brought to her life. If anything, I think she was relieved. Now she only had to worry about taking care of her; she didn’t have to worry about fulfilling promises, or failing. There were no more great expectations. And sometimes I think it was only then, when she didn’t have to burden herself with the responsibility of trying to be successful, that she started to do things right.” (109)

Maybe for this review I will give you some context. It’s about a young woman in her 40s who is living early onset of the Alzheimers disease. Rowan Coleman explores the way it affects her immediate family, which includes her husband, two children and her own mother. We also learn early on that this disease has taken away Claire’s father already, and her poor mother has to see it take over her daughter as well. Coleman really focuses on how the family dynamics are affected, but also digs into the past a little to help us understand some underlaying family issues which the disease perhaps heightens, forcing the characters to deal with it head on. We are continually transported to different events in there lives that helped shaped them or affected them deeply. It’s done it a manner that is not overwhelming, but rather complements the plot.

Now, I am not entirely convinced of pleased with certain aspects of the plot, and I am not too sure that I agree with some of the choices that the character’s make, for example Claire failing and dropping out of university. At the same time I understand what the author is trying to get at. Not everyone has a clear cut life, and it’s about exploring the way people choose to handle certain situations. Which ultimately determine the type of person you want to be.

Verdict: An incredibly beautifully written novel that had me in tears, but despite the heartbreak you leave 

I would love to hear your thoughts/comments! 

5 thoughts on “Book Review: The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman

  1. This sounds like such an interesting read! The psychological effects of mental diseases and brain damage always interest me, and Alzheimer is without doubt a difficult one to live with. The cover itself is gorgeous by the way! Great review.

    • If psychological effects of mental diseases interest you look no further than this book! It’s written through the patience’s eyes and yes daughters so it gives you multiple perspectives. Made me cry a little at the end. I take it you liked The Notebook then?

      • Sounds like the perfect read for me then! I’ve never actually read The Notebook although I’ve heard about it… I guess I’m afraid there will be too much romance involved for me to actually enjoy this book.

      • Yeah, this book’s focus is mainly on the disease but it does have a few notes about her teenage daughter which may sort of have a love thing going on. But let me reiterate that is not the focus.

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