Honey and Leonard by Mark Paul Smith
My mom has Alzheimer's. It's torturous watching someone slowly lose the ability to find the right words, keep control of emotional outbursts, etc. I was drawn to Honey and Leonard for that reason. I know what it's like.
Billed as a romance, I found there's an awful lot of reality in this novel, which isn't surprising given the author's experience with a parent with Alzheimer's. I wanted it to be uplifting, but I found it to be a little too true and sad to be uplifted by it.
Honey loves Leonard with all of her heart. The same is true in the other direction, even if Leonard sometimes forgets who Honey is. His niece has power of attorney and has him in an assisted living community, which Honey believes is a non-stop track to a slow death.
When blood tests find high levels of arsenic in Leonard's blood, Honey is barred from seeing him. His niece is applying for guardianship and the social worker assigned to his case makes it clear that Honey cannot see him again. Suspicions are that Honey is poisoning him, though Honey insists the arsenic must be tied to Leonard's long career as a farmer.
Soon, she and Leonard escape and fly to Paris. There, they hope to enjoy what time they have left together. The problem is what Honey's done counts as kidnapping and authorities are hot on their tails.
Sometimes, the details given in Honey and Leonard seemed to be too much. For instance, while I am fine with older adults having sex lives, a paragraph about their discovery and enjoyment of oral sex just didn't seem to be necessary to the story. With that, I found myself paying far too much attention to these details that seemed unnecessary over the dialogue and clear love the two shared. It took me out of the experience.
Alzheimer's affects people differently. Leonard's situation was nothing like my mom's whose memory loss has dragged on for 10 years just about. I had to remind myself from time to time as forgetting a loved one is still something my mom didn't do until recently. If you're accustomed to Alzheimer's, you have to remember these differences from one to the next.
Overall, I liked Honey and Leonard, but I never loved it. It was simply an okay read that I was able to walk away from. Nothing held my attention and pressed me to keep reading.