Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Book Review -- The Sombody Who by Katie Gates

Grams belongs to a world-wide group of mostly female bloggers known as SITS. There will be a lot more about the SITS girls in a future post. In a nutshell, SITS features a different blogger every day and members go to the featured blog and leave comments. It's all about supporting each other.

On March 15, freelance writer Katie Gates was the featured blogger. Shortly after I visited her blog and left my comment I received an email from Katie, which wasn't really surprising. In case you're a not a blogger and don't know, blog etiquette dictates that bloggers should respond to each comment they receive. Most of the time that's no big deal. If I get two or three comments on any post I consider that a success. But when you're the SITS featured blogger of the day, you will get hundreds of comments ... meaning, you're going to be a busy girl.

Not only did Katie respond to my comment, she visited my blog and looked around. In her response she took note of the fact that I'm am an avid reader. Then she asked if I would be interested in reviewing her book. Honestly, I almost said no. The thought that immediately went through my head was "What if I don't like it?" Then I remembered that the topic was Alzheimer's and dementia, and I was even more hesitant. I didn't share this with Katie, but, like so many others, I have personal experience with Alzheimer's. My husband's grandfather had Alzheimer's and my own mother had dementia the last several months of her life. I really didn't want to revisit either of those experiences.  But, avid reader that I am, I couldn't resist the opportunity to review a book by a writer that I had actually communicated with. So I agreed to review it and Katie sent me a copy. Even though I received the novel at no cost, I did not promise to write a favorable review.

The Somebody Who is Katie's debut novel. I expected that a novel about a family dealing with Alzheimer's and dementia would be sad and depressing ... a real downer. But it was not that at all. It was intriguing, uplifting and enjoyable.

Every day, Evelyn is dealing with her husband Davy's illness in the best way she can. She has learned that what works for Davy is sticking to a schedule and repetition and Davy has caregivers who help maintain that balance. Davy finds comfort in doing the same thing every day which includes a lot of sleeping in front of the television. Usually, Davy is not able to express himself and there are few signs that Davy is still in there. But, on occasion, the old Davy comes through. 

Evelyn seeks to keep herself busy and finds comfort by undertaking a project. The family's story is told through Evelyn's memories as she sorts through pieces of clothing that she will use to create a quilt. Each piece of clothing she chooses has a special sentiment and memory that goes along with it. Readers also learn that Evelyn and Davy's children each deal with their father's illness in their own way.

Evelyn's story evolves further as she begins to open herself up to new companionship outside of her marriage. Their daughter Joy is supportive.
"I completely understand that you are lonely," Joy begins, intently holding eye contact with her mother. "You've had one of the most awesome marriages I - or a lot of people in my generation - have ever witnessed. And in a way, that marriage is over. You're not divorced. Dad isn't dead. But, Dad is definitely absent."
But Evelyn's foray into companionship brings her and her family face-to-face with danger as late in the book a murder-mystery unfolds. I think that mystery adds just the right touch of creepiness to the story to hold the reader's interest.

Katie's writing style is quick and conversational and her characters are well developed. I felt like I really got to know several of the characters, especially Evelyn and Joy. She also does a great job of showing how different family members, and even caregivers, deal with Alzheimer's and dementia.

All the way through the book I was curious about the title and where it might have come from. I won't spoil it for the reader, and some of you may be able to figure it out, but I was really pleased with the way the story wrapped up and brought the title into focus.

I heartily recommend The Somebody Who. It shows that it is possible to deal with these difficult diseases with grace and aplomb and would be an excellent choice for a book club discussion.


  1. Many thanks, Vicki, for this wonderful review. I am so glad you enjoyed spending time with Evelyn and her crew!

  2. Sounds like Katie's book is one to add to the reading list. Great review.

    Isn't SITS great!? Actually, I think it was through SITS that you and I met, so YES, it is indeed great! :)