Tan­gles: A Sto­ry About Alzheimer’s, My Moth­er, and Me

  • From the Publisher
April 20, 2012
What do you do when your out­spo­ken, pas­sion­ate and quick-wit­ted moth­er starts fad­ing into a for­get­ful, fear­ful woman? In this pow­er­ful graph­ic mem­oir, Sarah Leav­itt reveals how Alzheimer’s dis­ease trans­formed her moth­er Midge — and her fam­i­ly — for­ev­er.

In spare black and white draw­ings and clear, can­did prose, Sarah shares her family’s jour­ney through a har­row­ing range of emo­tions — shock, denial, hope, anger, frus­tra­tion — all the while learn­ing to cope, and man­ag­ing to find moments of hap­pi­ness. Midge, a Har­vard-edu­cat­ed intel­lec­tu­al, strug­gles to com­pre­hend the sim­plest words; Sarah’s father Rob slow­ly adapts to his new role as full-time care­tak­er, but still finds time for word-play and poet­ry with his wife; Sarah and her sis­ter Han­nah argue, laugh, and grieve togeth­er as they join forces to help Midge get to sleep, rage about fam­i­ly friends who have dis­ap­peared, or col­lapse in tears at the end of a heart­break­ing day.

The Leav­itts — a sec­u­lar Jew­ish Amer­i­can fam­i­ly trans­plant­ed to small-town Cana­da — all have dif­fer­ent rela­tion­ships to Judaism, Jew­ish cul­ture, God and faith. These rela­tion­ships form a strong under­cur­rent in Tan­gles, as Sarah, strug­gling to cope with her mother’s ill­ness, ques­tions God, attends syn­a­gogue for the first time and, final­ly, finds com­fort in the Kaddish.

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