by Ruth F. Stevens
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Pub Date 26 Oct 2021 | Archive Date 01 Dec 2021
DartFrog Books, DartFrog Plus
Barbara Gordon is a self-reliant, divorced mom, brilliant at managing her life with lists and spreadsheets. Lately, though, the demands of a teenage daughter, a manipulative sister, and a mother with worsening Alzheimer’s are more than she can handle.
Then Barbara meets Jack, an appealing older man married to a late-stage dementia patient who no longer knows him. Jack and Barbara hold the power to make each other happy…but only if Barbara can break her long cycle of romantic abstinence.
Funny, sad, and heartwarming, Stage Seven is about two people caught between love and duty, and the risks we take when we commit our hearts to family, friends, and lovers alike.
“Stage Seven is the story of Barbara, a caregiver, who finds love again in the most impossible of situations. But the unconventional romance she can’t quit breaks cultural taboos and Barbara must choose. Will this 'Sandwich Generation' protagonist with every free moment dedicated to her family finally choose to allow herself to enjoy some happiness while she can? Or will she choose to let the needs of her mother, daughter, and sister suck the life out of her? Ruth Stevens’ captivating story of Barbara’s (one of my favorite names by the way!) roller coaster of desire, self-doubt, selflessness, envelope-pushing risk-taking, loyalty, and standing in her truth make this book a great read I enjoyed. It emboldens the reader to reexamine priorities and refine their point of view on the meaning of life. Is everything that happens out of our control? Or can we influence our destinies by grabbing hold of opportunities and live, live, live?"
~ Dan Gasby, co-author with B. Smith, Before I Forget: Love, Hope, Help, and Acceptance in Our Fight Against Alzheimer’s
"Stage Seven is an honest and touching romance that reminds us how much we can mean to each other. It’s a sweet reminder that love appears on its own schedule, and that being open is a gift of self-love. A romance with emotional maturity and true connection, delightful and touching."
~ Abbi Waxman, USA Today best-selling author of The Bookish Life of Nina Hill and several other novels
"Stage Seven is a heart-in-your-throat story with the nuance and emotional resonance of some of the best accounts on family. A book so intimate I saw my own family reflected within its pages. If you’re looking for humor, love and the strength of spirit to face heartbreaking realities head on, Stage Seven may just be the elixir. I feel so inspired to live life to the fullest again and I have to thank Ruth and her delicate characters for that. This book feels important."
~ Daniel Kenner, author of Room For Grace
"Ruth Stevens has written a compassionate and moving novel about the lives we are living now. She reveals the ways that Alzheimer's challenges and changes who we are and how we love. This is a book that is an affirmation and an inspiration."
~ Marita Golden, author of The Wide Circumference of Love, an NPR Best Book of 2017
Average rating from 5 members
I loved this book, which tells the profound and moving story of Barbara, caring for her mother Dolly who is living with Alzheimer's. The relationships between the central characters are so richly portrayed that I felt like I got to know them all well (and finishing the book was difficult, because I would have read on, happily). The ethics of romantic relationships involving a person whose spouse has advanced Alzheimer's are handled sensitively, and with great compassion.
Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Stage Seven is the final stage of Alzheimer’s and it is what Dolly Gordon is facing. She lives in the memory care unit of Tropical Gardens Assisted Living and is visited daily by Barbara, her daughter. This is Barbara’s story.
Barbara is a card carrying member of the sandwich generation. She must balance her mother’s care with the needs of her 16 year old (going on 25) daughter and gets no help from her self-centered older sister. Compulsively organized charts, spreadsheets and lists help manage her anxiety but she still worries about everyone but herself. Then she meets Jack, another constant visitor to Tropical Gardens, who visits his wife daily. Barbara and Jack move slowly forward with their friendship but Barbara has to learn to let go of her worries and fears.
Stage Seven, beautifully written, tells the story of two vibrant, life loving women as they slide slowly into Alzheimer’s. Barbara and Jack are left with their memories and the “long goodbye” but they also want and need a future. This is an informative, moving story. 5 stars.
Thank you to NetGalley, DartFrog Books and Ruth F. Stevens for this ARC.
Barbara is a single mother who is caring for her own mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. The latter lives in a specialised institution for people with the disease. It is here that Barbara meets Jack, a man who cares for his wife who is on stage seven of the disease, the last stage before the inevitable. A relationship quickly develops between these two people who are linked by the fact that they are caring for a sick relative.
My opinion of this book is rather mixed. At first, I liked the idea. I know from experience that caring for a sick relative is difficult and it often seems that the only people who can understand us are those who are in the same situation as you are. As a result, I was not shocked by the love affair between Barbara and Jack, even though he is still married to his wife. For me it was not a form of adultery, his wife was already ‘gone’. So, from that point of view, I found the book interesting.
However, there were also moments that made me cringe. In particular, those about weight that were completely unnecessary to the story (if such comments are necessary at all). I also found it hard to get attached to the characters. Honestly, if I could have, I would have thrown Barbara’s sister out the window (and I live on the sixth floor). I also had trouble with the constant shifting of viewpoints. You go from ‘I’ with Barbara to the third person following way too many characters. This confused me more than anything else and, as a result, this book was not a smooth read for me.
I will give it an average of 2.5/5.
Thanks to NetGalley, DartFrog Books and Ruth F. Stevens for an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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