Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Review Montpelier Tomorrow by Marylee MacDonald

This book was an interesting reading experience.
Besides having enjoyed the story itself, I've also got to learn more about ALS and not only the physical troubles to person suffering from it but also the family troubles and mainkly the financial troubles it causes.
After seeing the movie The Theory Of Everything in which we see Stephen Hawking also suffering from ALS, but having everything he needed to remain alive and well in a way, I didn't think it would be so hard to deal with. I mean yes, there are definitely tons and tons of emotional struggles, but the tools that are needed are here, so everyone can have them, right?
But this book showed me that that wasn't true and showed me the reality of living with such a person, while taking care of your family.


Colleen Gallagher would do anything to protect her children from harm. So when the husband of her daughter falls ill with ALS, Colleen jumps in like a superhero and comes to support her in whatever way possible. She takes on the roles of grandma, cook and caregiver in house, only to see that even her powers can't fix the problems here.

My opinion

Rate: 7/10

Like I said from the beginning - this was an interesting reading experience, which tackled all my visions on the reality of taking care of someone suffering from such a disease.
It isn't that simple and I learned that from this book.
Stephen Hawking was lucky to have the money needed for things as the respirator and all the other tools needed to keep him alive, but not everyone has that money. And besides that; it isn't always that great. MacDonald showed us, by giving us an example of another person ( Ms. Calabrese) who suffers from ALS, who is laying in the living room, surrounded by machines and people who keep her alive and a daughter who had to give up almost everything to take care of her mother, that it isn't what you expect it to be. It isn't like the person suffering from ALS can continue his life normally nor the others around him.
It really felt like we were slammed into the reality of dealing with such and in a fear so big with the protagonist, that it made me wonder if this was going to be alright in the end.

What I found very interesting was the choice of protagonist for this book. Instead of choosing someone who is directly affected by ALS or someone who is very close (married, close siblings, close friends) to the person, MacDonald chose someone more distant and less loved by the rest of the characters, because of the broken ties in the family.
Colleen gave us a different view on the situation; because of her strong, caring character and her more distant connection to the rest of the characters it felt like a more realistic experience. And not a depressing and blinded one, where everything is distorted to the need to help someone because you love them. She does love them, of course, but she also sees the things people like Sandy - her daughter and Tony's (the one suffering from ALS) wife.
The whole cast of characters was an interesting mix, with Sandy needing her mother's (Colleen) help, but at the same time not wanting her around, Tony who is being consistently unthankful and is devoured in self-pity, Sandy's brothers who actually want to stay as far from the troubles as they possibly can, Tony's parents who are able to help with all the money they have but do just a little.
Their actions and feelings are so true and honest that it really fitted the story.

Although I found it a very realistic story and I liked the cast of characters, they kind of turned me off too. They created this constant agitated, irritated mood that really bugged me. Everybody was being so mean and unthankful. From the first page on you're welcome with this mood! And I just felt like sorry and sad that everybody was acting this way.
I do find it fitting, since everybody is a little agitated because they have to tun their life upside down for Tony, whose behaviour isn't as thankful as you would expect.
The fact that it worsened and that Colleen took it all, made me so angry and sad and blegh!

But I do have to say - it also had a nice effect on the story.
Because of this constant agitated mood, the small happy moments were really special. You see the longing for happiness a lot in the book, with our protagonist having flashbacks to a lot of awful things, but also a few good things.
So when something good happens, when Colleen she's done something right for her daughter, the feelings she gets, the feelings I get, are so strong! It makes the small things like when Tony compliments Sandy on her new haircut, instead of bickering about how nobody understands him and how he's dying and blablabla.
I think that McDonald shows us through this that in times of pain and despair even the smallest acts of appreciation and kindness can do wonders.
Even though the agitated mood didn't disappear after his, it still was special.

And besides the nice effect - it was also quite understandable.
Because everybody wants to help but has no idea what to do.
Yes, it was all a bit depressing and it did turn me off, but it is honest and real, two words I feel like I've used too much already, haha.
I mean, the broken relationships between mother and children and the newest happening - a relative has ALS; that changes everybody's life and is not easy to deal with. 
What can we do? How do we fix this? How do we help and have a normal life?
These were the main questions in the air and remained in the air - they were reflected perfectly, by using the constant bickering and fighting and in the conversations between the characters. Also the feeling of being burdened with such a thing was something that was being reflected in the story. It made it a very fascinating and realistic - another word I've used too many times already - story. It made consistently wonder what they will do next. Will this character drop out? Who will stay and help, other than Colleen? Will Tony's parents help (because they barely do)?

In the end, the book left quite an impression on me.
MacDonald took our o-so-familiar- family drama and gave us a deep insight in it. And she gave us a quite important lesson with that: how hectic and dramatic your life might've been, life still goes on and it's up to you if you move on or not.
And I think we saw Colleen make this decision, after experiencing another close death, other than her husband's who died a long time ago, by instead of allowing herself to fall, she stood tall and moved onward.
I think the showed me the reality of life someway, that it is very painful and hellish sometimes, especially in a situation like this, but that when you keep up and allow yourself to stand tall, you will find light at the end of the road.

So overall I did enjoy this book. I learned quite some stuff about ALS and both the financial and personal troubles that can come with it. And even though the agitated mood was quite enjoying, I still liked the characters and the story itself. It was a very different and unique reading experience!

I also want to thank Marylee MacDonald for letting me read and review her book and @Booktips_tweet on Twitter for connecting us! 

That's it for this blog post!
Until the next blog post! :)

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