The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth (St. Martin’s Press, 2015)
This novel interweaves the stories of two women in their thirties who are suffering fairly unique forms of heartbreak. Anna is an early onset (age 38) Alzheimer’s patient living in an assisted living residence for the elderly, and Eve is the new cook and housekeeper whose husband just killed himself after being convicted of a massive Ponzi scheme. Throughout the book Anna sadly loses more and more of her memory, but develops a romantic relationship with a man her age who also has early onset dementia. Eve struggles to build a new life for herself and her seven year old daughter, with the help of the handsome gardener who shares her love of organic cooking. The author sensitively portrays the frustration of people who can’t remember what anything is called or which door goes where, as well as the hurt of losing all your friends and living in poverty because of what your husband did. This excellent book will make you sad and yet hopeful, and give you much greater understanding of the experiences of people with dementia and their families.