Rating: Decent + 5 Scoops
Six years ago, I encountered a frail-looking woman that resembled my grandmother. That cannot be her. That cannot be my fussy, sassy, grandma Jurnise Truitt. I just saw her a few months ago and she was exactly the way I've always known her to be--nosy, cooking, and strong. That day marked the beginning of my denial. My disbelief that my able-bodied grandmother's brain was becoming fogged, scrambled...hers but no longer her own to control. Progressively losing her short-term memory, she forgot to eat triggering faint spells and rapid weight loss. As the Dementia onslaught continued, my grandmother's disposition changed. She became hard to manage and wandered about her apartment at night, not much unlike the residents Sunny encounters at Paradise Manor. My family is blessed that my grandmother still recognizes her children, can feed herself, possesses her lively personality, and walk with supervision. Yet, waving goodbye to my grandma at the nursing home instead of her 2- bedroom domain, my home away from home, breaks my heart a little more each time.
Sonja "Sunny" Ehret along with her fellow high school juniors, must perform 40 hours of community service to graduate. Unable to secure a position in her ideal location, an upscale hair shop, Salon Teo, Sunny is assigned to the Alzheimer's ward at Paradise Manor. Still harboring resentment about her placement, Sunny with the help of Cole, a resident's grandson, adjusts to life at Paradise Manor and soon begins to enjoy it. Death, although a regular occurrence at the Manor, takes a criminal turn.
The novel opens with the judge awaiting Sunny's plea, which hooked me immediately. However, the choppy transitions between the courtroom scenes, journal entries, and flashbacks were a bit confusing. Also, the flip-flop from present to past lacked smoothness creating lulls in the story. McNicoll's ascription of crow likeness and characteristics to the prosecution and judge is a riot. Through Sunny's journal entries, I come to know her. Initially referring to Paradise Manor residents as inmates, Sunny before long develops respect and affection for them. I enjoyed watching Sunny evolve from a self-involved teen required to serve others to caring for the patients desiring their happiness. Neither the characters nor the plot drew me in, but the storyline kept me reading. The strength of the novel draws itself from illustrating the difficulty of caring for individuals with Alzheimer's Disease. Sunny says it best, "I'm sorry for your loss...not this one. But the disease...you know?" To me this quote speaks volumes to those who have lost a love one to Alzheimer's.
Complimentary e-galley provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.