Friday February 1, 2013
Tangles - graphic insight
Review by EMMA KANTROWITZ
Tangles: A Story AboutAlzheimer’s, My Mother And Me
Author: Sarah Leavitt
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing/Freehand books, 127 pages
IN this unusual graphic novel, author Sarah Leavitt chronicles her mother’s life as she struggles with Alzheimer’s. The witty and darkly humorous novel explores Leavitt’s changing relationship with her family, her mother and mostly herself throughout the progression of the illness.
The etched black and white drawings help to illustrate Leavitt’s mother, Midge, and her struggle with the debilitating disease. Leavitt details the beginning stages: forgetfulness, losing the sense of smell, headaches and being unable to accomplish simple tasks. Once her mother is formally diagnosed, at age 54, the novel plunges into the daily life of living with a person who’s suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Leavitt’s stark drawings illustrate how her family must constantly care for her mother – a harsh reality that is true for so many suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s. She interjects the drawings with quotes from Midge, which help to show the disease from the inside, rather than from the outside in.
Midge says to Leavitt, “I’m not a real person any more,” and, “I just can’t tell what is and isn’t.” Eventually she stops speaking altogether, before passing away at 60, just six years after her diagnosis.
Leavitt’s torn between wanting to help her mother and wanting to preserve herself, and ultimately at the end of her mother’s illness, she learns to do both.
Heartwarming and gut wrenching, Tangles is unique in its form, familiar in its story, and a must-read for anyone touched by the illness.
> Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer’s, My Mother, And Me by Sarah Leavitt is available
at Kinokuniya Bookstores.