The Favorite Daughter by Patti Callahan Henry
I spent a lot of time tearing up as I read The Favorite Daughter. If you have a parent or loved one with Alzheimer's, this book is going to hit home.
Ten years ago, Colleen "Lena" Donohue walked away from her family after suffering the worst kind of betrayal. On her wedding day, Lena found her husband-to-be passionately kissing her sister. She's spent a decade touring the world and writing articles about her adventures. Her visits home have been limited since that day.
When Lena's brother calls with news that their dad has Alzheimer's, Lena has to return home. No matter what her sister did, her dad is and always will be the one family member she could never turn her back on.
As their dad's memories slip farther away, Lena, her brother, and her sister work together to take old family photographs and create a book that tells each photo's story. Along the way, Lena learns more about herself than she could ever imagine.
I wasn't shocked by the surprise that their dad was hiding. I had that figured out long before it was revealed. That said, the details into Alzheimer's and its progression were spot on. My mom has Alzheimer's and I really felt the situations they faced were very true.
There were also times I was extremely jealous of these fictional characters. When my dad died, we sat down with a social worker. No one gave us a folder filled with paperwork and forms that could help us navigate our mom's care. We found just how much our dad had been hiding as he cared for our mom. We had no idea how progressed her Alzheimer's really was. Instead, we bounced from lawyers to social workers to assisted care homes to nurses and memory care doctors who didn't once have answers for us. We had to do the research and talk to countless programs and agencies on our own.
The symptoms of Alzheimer's hit everyone differently. Our mom is a lot like the Donohue's dad, so it hit home. It hit hard. The agitation, anger, flip-flopping of topics, denial, and confusion are all things we've watched her deal with. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but even the ending struck me as very realistic giving things I've heard my mom say.
Is The Favorite Daughter an easy read? It wasn't for me. It really hit hard emotionally, but it was so, so good.