Review: Elizabeth is Missing – Emma Healey

EIM-pb-jacketThis book has really hit me. It was probably the hardest book that I’ve read lately on an emotional front. My grandfather has dementia and this book just really hit me in the gut, and the heart.

Our protagonist is Maud, an 82 year old who suffers with dementia. While she still lives independently, she is reliant on carers and her daughter coming in daily to do tasks such as cook and clean for her. Her memories have become jumbled and nothing seems to fit; the disappearance of both her sister in the past and, of course, her friend Elizabeth in the present dominate most of her thoughts. It really captures the anxiety and bewilderment that Maud is suffering perfectly – I think this is what affected me so much. It also captures some of the frustration of the those in a position of caring for someone with dementia/Alzheimer’s face.

This book is heartbreaking; it is also funny, warm and charming. While it was somewhat predictable (it is pretty clear what the situation with Elizabeth is likely to be, it is also not too difficult to decipher what happened with Sukey all those years ago) it was compelling. It was simply written so beautifully it was hard to put down, once I started I could barely stop myself reading.

This book hasn’t changed my life, but it made me more empathetic. It wasn’t an easy book to read, for me it was emotionally draining but I am so glad I did read it. I think anyone would be hard pushed to not be at least a little moved by it. However, it really isn’t the best book ever written and I don’t really understand how it won awards – just throwing it out there; while it is emotional and compelling to read it isn’t a literary masterpiece (harsh, I know). It is however a book that hits you, I did form an emotional connection with the characters and as one person in four is affected directly or indirectly by something like dementia I think it was a much needed book to raise awareness.

A solid 4/5 and I look forward to what Healey does next!