The Last Ocean: A Journey Through Memory and Forgetting

Nicci Gerrard. . Penguin, $28 (272p) ISBN 978-0-525-52196-9
Gerrard, coauthor with Sean French of the thrillers published under the pseudonym Nicci French, takes on dementia in this vivid combination of memoir and investigative journalism. Moved to write about the condition by her father’s decline into dementia, she interweaves her memories of him with the stories of other affected people—family members and caregivers as well as patients, and insights from doctors and researchers. The book traces the arc of the condition, from early chapters on facing up to and diagnosing it in its many forms—Alzheimer’s being just the best-known—to a section on optimizing quality of life, to a discussion of care options in the advanced stages. Yes, she acknowledges, dementia is a terminal condition, the “sniper in the garden” and a “sneaky intruder in the house,” but there are ways to live with it, and even live well. The arts, in particular, “support longer lives better lived,” as Gerrard finds at the hospitals and homes now incorporating them. She, herself, after her father’s death, launched John’s Campaign to gain caregivers the right to stay with dementia patients in the hospital, just as parents do with their children. With dementia now afflicting one in six people over 80, Gerrard’s informative and thought-provoking book is pertinent to all. Agent: Joy Harris, Joy Harris Literary. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 04/22/2019
Release date: 08/13/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 978-0-525-52197-6
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-525-52198-3
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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