Broken Beauty

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 25 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

This is a beautiful book about being a fulltime caregiver for a family member with Alzheimer's. It is a must read for anyone who wants a better understanding of the disease or what caregivers can go through. 

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book free of charge. This is my honest and unbiased opinion of it.
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wow!  I have lived this book several times in the recent past!  My mother, my father in law, a beloved aunt, and several other family members diagnosed with AD.   although not  full-time care giver to my loved ones (my siblings and I shared responsibilites, each of us taking a specific job in the process), the struggke is real.  This book lays it all out there.  Its a horrible affliction.  I have laid out a olan for my care should my family be faced with this.  This is an important book. whether your journey is just starting or has ended.  Thank you M Smith for sharing your story, it will make a difference
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In 2009, Sarah Smith and her family drove from Dallas to Houston to visit her parents over Thanksgiving. She offered to do some early Christmas-present wrapping with her mother, and noticed that her mum was having trouble tying ribbons. The older woman kept making a fist and rubbing her forearm. She also reported she’d had numbness and tingling in her hand for some time. Sarah feared the worst: a brain tumour, perhaps. Unfortunately, her mother, then aged 64 and seemingly “fit as a fiddle”, was extremely stubborn and refused to see a doctor. Soon, she was having troubles with numbers, often subtracting a final zero from a figure. On one shopping trip with a friend, she racked up a $1500 bill for make-up. She had thought the total read $150. Fine motor skills also suffered. She couldn’t write her name. She also became increasingly restless and irritable. A diagnosis of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease was made in 2012. The neurologist was certain that Sarah’s mother, called “Beauty” by her grandchildren, had actually had the disease for some years. In E.O.A.D., decline is swifter than Alzheimer’s that manifests later in life. Beauty would likely need to be taken into care in five to seven years. 

Smith documents her father’s efforts at moving his wife from Houston to Dallas, where they could be close to Sarah and one of Sarah’s brothers. Family support would be critical in dealing with this challenging diagnosis. Once installed in her new, smaller home, however, Beauty became increasingly agitated. Sarah’s dad often took her out on neighbourhood walks, but no sooner were they back home than she’d be demanding to go on another, entirely forgetting she’d already been out. She dangerously moved heavy furniture up and down stairs on a regular basis, scratching floors and walls, and becoming irrationally angry if anyone tried to stop her. At times, she escaped from the house and become disoriented. One time, campus police at the local university had to bring her home on their cart. She knew neither her address nor her phone number, but the police reasoned she might recognize her house if they drove around a bit. She did.

One of the biggest problems at this time was that Beauty developed a sudden extreme craving for alcohol. Neither of Sarah’s parents, straight-and-narrow Christians that they were, had consumed alcohol in years, so this was quite the thing. (It occurs to me that Beauty was perhaps, in her own way, trying to calm her agitation. After all, alcohol is a depressant.) Sarah’s husband, Thad, had overcome alcoholism some years before. It was Sarah’s firm belief that God  “completely [and “magically”—I might sardonically add] took away Thad’s desire for alcohol”. Sarah appeared to believe God might be prayerfully prevailed upon to do a repeat performance.

It was around this point in reading—the 20% mark—that I decided I could not finish Smith’s memoir, which is plainly intended for a Christian audience. (Unfortunately, the description on Net galley did not make this clear.) The ongoing references to “God’s abiding love”, “His daily miracles”, and so on just became too much for me. I also found the writing saccharine and cliché ridden at times. My personal reaction was to find a lot of the religiosity a form of denial. There are obviously many ways to be in the world. Smith’s religious faith clearly gives her comfort, but I cannot relate to it in the least, and found myself growing increasingly annoyed by the Christian references. Potential readers, even non-religious ones, may still find the book valuable if they are willing to look past the book’s evangelical slant.

I wish the author well. She has clearly had a trying and heartbreaking time of it.
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While this is not an easy book to read, it is a very important book to read. It puts names and faces and lives on to the tragedy of Alzheimer’s. Not being overly religious,  I was a little put off by the sheer number of Bible references in the book.  As I progressed through the story, I came to realize that not only were they important, they were integral to it.  By the end, I didn’t enen notice them.  This is one book that I will read again and again.  I know that will grieve with Sarah when Beauty leaves us .  Her mom became mine and I am honored she shared Beauty with me.
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I was a full-time carer for my later mother, who suffered from the wicked disease 'Alzheimer's', so when i spotted this book on Netgalley, i felt that it was a book that i could relate to.  

Just like Sarah's mother 'Beauty' my mother also had the onset of Alzheimer's too early in life (early 60's).  There were so many parts of this book that i could relate to and could feel the pain and heartache that Sarah went through.  It brought back my own memories and just like 'Beauty' it brought back the days my mother got herself lost when taking herself out.  The difference with Sarah and her family and my own, is that we do not believe in God and the only help we turned to, was a private carer who came to the house a few hours a week so i could go shopping etc.  It also helped that i was once a carer in a home for those with Alzheimer's and other forms of Dementia for several years.  The care home that Sarah had placed her mother in sounded a wonderful home.  I could never place my mother in a home for various reasons.  

I do highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in what life is like from the early stages of Alzheimer's as well as anyone who is caring or has cared for a loved one with Alzheimer's.  

My thanks to Netgalley, Sarah and the Publishers for my advanced copy of 'Broken Beauty'.  This is my honest review, which i have freely given.
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