The Things we keep

thingswekeepIn The Things we keep by Sally Hepworth, the story is not always revealed in a linear presentation and sometimes the story can be momentarily confusing however this simply helps the reader to experience the general feeling of befuddlement, a sensation that dementia sufferers are only too familiar with.

Anna finds herself adjust from being a thirty-eight years old, motorbike riding, paramedic to becoming a patient… an assisted living residence. Her identity is slowly unravelling as early onset dementia takes hold of her brain. This is significantly shocking as she finds herself tic-tack-toeing from moments of clarity to moments of sheer confusion. In her new living arrangements she finds herself among  senior citizens, although she considers herself to be a “young person, old mind”.  She is not alone however. Great efforts were taken to place her in a facility where there is another early onset dementia sufferer. One that she later refers to as “young guy”. As the story gets more complex, Anna’s mind becomes more simplex. “When you get to my age”, he says, his face softening, “you don’t waste time with regrets. In the end, you just remember the moments of joy. When all is said and done, those are the things we keep”.

This novel is thought provoking, tender and it raises some ethical dilemmas. The author handles what could be a depressing or sensationalised situation with such empathy and respect that I find myself thinking that she must have had firsthand experience with dementia sufferers. The handling of the issues if respectful and graceful and the tone is one generally of joy. This book comes recommended.