Wednesday, April 09, 2014

No Saints Around Here - Toth

Title: No Saints Around Here
Author: Susan Allen Toth
Published: 2014, University of Minnesota Press
Genre: Memoir
3/5- Good. Read it, have a good time and move on. Or not.

Book Source: I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley, free of cost, in exchange for an honest review.

Recommended if you like: Memoirs, Stories about struggle with illness/care giving

What Its About: Susan Toth and her husband James were taken by surprise when he received a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. Never had the term "until death do us part" felt quite the same for these aging second-marriagers with older children. Over the following years, Toth determines that she will care for James at home until his death, or until it becomes just impossible to do otherwise.

Countless books on "care giving" left Toth empty, with no real understanding of the realities she was about to face. She made connections and friendships with other women who had found themselves in similar terminal care giving situations and took strength from their experiences, their support and their humor.

Despite others commenting often about her efforts, Toth repeats the mantra that she never considered herself a saint . Her frustration and exhaustion got the better of her often. The constant interruptions from any goal or second of rest took its toll. More than once she wished the whole horrible situation would just end, despite the unavoidable outcome. But she takes comfort in the fact that she loved her husband dearly, had no doubt that he knew that, and did the best she could at any and every given moment of his care, interestingly part of her marriage vows.

This memoir follows Toth's experience over the final year or so of her husband's life, addressing real subjects such as exhaustion and frustration, small luxuries and caring for herself, watching her husband's final decline, loss of freedom, and even bodily functions. She does so with honesty and humor.

Bottom Line: A good read, but definitely heartbreaking. Many will enjoy this well-written read, but other's may not quite be able to handle the reality of it. Handle with care.