cover image My Father’s Brain: Life in the Shadow of Alzheimer’s

My Father’s Brain: Life in the Shadow of Alzheimer’s

Sandeep Jauhar. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28 (256p) ISBN 978-0-374-60584-1

In this propulsive memoir, cardiologist Jauhar (Heart: A History) delivers an aching account of “the hardest journey [he has] ever taken” as he witnessed his father, Prem’s, health, personality, and cognition get subsumed by Alzheimer’s. The closeness between Jauhar, his brother Rajiv, and sister Suneeta—all doctors—was strained by debates regarding care and end of life decision-making. “I learned long ago that families break down over these issues,” Rajiv observes as Jauhar resisted placing Prem, a world-class scientist and geneticist, in assisted living after his wife’s death. Jauhar layers the narrative with research about Alzheimer’s, a look at a groundbreaking “dementia village” in the Netherlands, interrogations of ideas like “therapeutic deception” (playing along with a patient’s beliefs), and existential quandaries about whether losing one’s memories constitutes losing one’s identity. Jauhar masterfully depicts the siblings’ fractious despair as he, clinging to hope, pushed for one more intervention as Prem’s death approached. The author’s brutal honesty—about his father’s decline and his own inability to fully reckon with it—is expertly complemented by his medical rigor. Every family who’s ever faced an Alzheimer’s diagnosis will see themselves in this exceptional work. Agent: Todd Shuster, Aevitas Creative Management. (Apr.)