Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

Elizabeth is MissingFighting through the fog of vanish­ing short term memory, Maud is convinced that her friend Elizabeth has gone missing. Because she is elderly and often forgets where she is and why she came there, no one believes her. Her daughter, Helen, is frustrated that she is unable to convince Maud that Eliza­beth has likely gone to a continuing care home. Peter, Elizabeth’s son, is be­coming angry because of Maud’s mid­dle of the night phone calls to him, and her insinuation that he may have done away with her. The local police find her amusing as she continues to show up at the station to report Elizabeth missing.

As Maud remembers bits of the present, her memory catches on sto­ries from her past — a past she has no trouble remembering at all. In fact, she begins to realize that her sister, who went missing when Maud was a girl, might just hold clues to Elizabeth’s disappearance — or is it the other way around?

Maud’s attempt to stay in the present and find her friend is a pitch-perfect description of what it must be like to begin to travel down the path of Alzheimer’s. With great compassion for Maud and true understanding and sympathy for the loyal but daunted daughter, Healey gives us a better un­derstanding of what it means to be pa­tient, and to help provide dignity while another’s memory fades. This is a bril­liant choice for book clubs interested in literary mysteries, family struggles, and aging.

Harper/HarperCollins; ISBN 978-0- 06230-966-2; $25.99.

Elizabeth is Missing: Reading Guide

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