ARC: We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas

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We Are Not Ourselves
Matthew Thomas
Simon & Shuster August 19, 2014
Pages 640
ISBN13: 9781476756660
A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review

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Recommendation: 4/5
Reviewer: Melinda

SUMMARY:
Born in 1941, Eileen Tumulty is raised by her Irish immigrant parents in Woodside, Queens, in an apartment where the mood swings between heartbreak and hilarity, depending on whether guests are over and how much alcohol has been consumed.

When Eileen meets Ed Leary, a scientist whose bearing is nothing like those of the men she grew up with, she thinks she’s found the perfect partner to deliver her to the cosmopolitan world she longs to inhabit. They marry, and Eileen quickly discovers Ed doesn’t aspire to the same, ever bigger, stakes in the American Dream.

Eileen encourages her husband to want more: a better job, better friends, a better house, but as years pass it becomes clear that his growing reluctance is part of a deeper psychological shift. An inescapable darkness enters their lives, and Eileen and Ed and their son Connell try desperately to hold together a semblance of the reality they have known, and to preserve, against long odds, an idea they have cherished of the future.
~Goodreads page summary~

MY THOUGHTS
An affecting saga of an average American family with Eileen Leary the epicenter. Eileen is clearly the cog of her family. Eileen has always desired the American Dream, she finds as time passes her dream is tempered by her husband’s lack of alignment with her ambitions. Determined to see her dream to fruition Eileen propels ahead and finds her dream a reality. The dynamics of her family shifts and she finds through a chain of events wishing for a snippet of her old life back.

We witness the recesses of a family exposed as tragedy strikes, clearly not part of the dream. An emotional journey ensues and the reader is hurtled in to the agonizing heartbreak of Alzheimer’s. Every emotion this family feels is felt with every turn of a page.

I found myself profoundly moved by this story. It paints a true portrait of what an unexpected illness causes the person as well as the family. Amazing detail of a family dealing with an intruder, an interloper most unkind. As a family they do the best they can, and with Eileen at the helm, rest assured she will be the guiding force. A compelling epic you will not be able to put down.

A story of love, loss, family, change, acceptance and a realization of priorities. Inspiring and touching. A story penetrating the perusers emotional depths.

” This is a disease where you never win. It doesn’t just take down the sufferer. It takes down the spouse, the children, the friends. It can feel tremendously isolating.”

Savage glimpse into the expanse of Alzheimer’s.

“What about the bad news? He turned to her. “The bad news is your husband likely has Alzheimer’s.” She gasped; Ed’s hand in her seized into a fist.

“I take no pleasure in saying this, but from now on, it might be best to think as every day as the best of the rest of your life. If I were you, I’d try to make the most of every day while you can.”

Matthew Thomas creates a chef d’oeuvre, unbelievable this is his debut. Beautifully crafted and clearly the beginning of an amazing literary career. A destined classic not to be unnoticed.

“Is there going to be a time when you don’t know who I am? He asked.
Ed’s face took on fierce expression as though the question had angered him. She thought to intervene, but then he rose from his seat and leaned down and put his arm around the boy. “I will always know who you are,” Ed said kissing the top of his head. “Even if you think I don’t know, even if I seem not to. I will always know who you are. You are my son. Don’t you ever forget that. “You neither,” he said rising to hug his father.

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