Only With The Heart

Author: Sherri Szeman (click on link to purchase book)

Publisher: Arcade


Star scores

One star-Poor           Two stars-Fair             Three stars-Good           Four stars-Excellent

Originally published by Rapport Magazine

Only with the HeartThis is one family’s journey into dementia and the toll it takes on everyone involved, including the readers. The matriarch has Alzheimer’s disease and it becomes the responsibility of the daughter-in-law to take care of her as she further deteriorates. Not wanting to put her in a nursing home, the family sacrifices everything to keep her home with them. When the mother-in-law dies, the daughter-in-law is blamed for her demise. Could she have really killed her?

Claudia is an orphan who never really had a mother until Eleanor came along. Eleanor adored her daughter-in-law and when she was well she would do anything under the sun for her. Eleanor even went so far as to help Claudia open her own bookstore. Claudia reciprocated that love and for awhile everything was absolutely perfect. She had a wonderful husband, Sam, and finally, the mother she had sought all her life. Things changed, Eleanor changed. Claudia was puzzled by Eleanor’s behavior. Soon after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

After Eleanor’s husband Harold died, she moved in with Claudia and Sam. They were ill-equipped, however, to deal with Eleanor and everything Alzheimer’s entailed. The stress caused by taking care of Eleanor caused Claudia to experience several miscarriages. It was though they were surrounded by death. Things really fell apart for Claudia and Sam after Eleanor’s death. The police soon became convinced that Eleanor had not died from natural causes. Now Claudia stood on trial for her life, accused of killing her mother-in-law, or at the very least, helping her commit suicide. Either way, she was facing prison. Would a jury believe she was innocent as she claimed?

This book is both difficult and confusing. The reader doesn’t always know if the events occur in the present or past. In a better format, this could have been a more interesting book. The only saving grace was the genuineness and realism of what Alzheimer’s does, not only to the patient but the family members who love them as well.


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