Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Story of Forgetting by Stefan Merrill Block

This book is part of LibraryThing's Early Review program.

I almost gave up on this book. I almost invoked the “Rule of 50” around page 35. But I didn’t, and I am sure glad I didn’t.

The novel is about a man waiting for his daughter, and a young boy trying to find his mother, stricken with Familial Early Onset Alzheimer’s. Seth and his father know almost nothing of Jaime’s past and her family. Abel, the man waiting for his daughter to come home, is a sad and forlorn character with almost nothing to live for except his memories of his brother Paul, his wife Mae, and the daughter Abel believes he fathered during an affair with Mae.

Block provides us with a history of this peculiar variation of Alzheimer's, how it first appeared as a mutation in England, how it spread around the world, and finally found its way into the lives of Seth and his family. I won’t say any more about the plot, but I will say the medical sections are interesting and well-written, even easy to follow.

The story is populated with lots of interesting characters with all the foibles and failings we easily recognize in ourselves and in those closest to us.

One of the reasons I was going to stop reading was I felt a depressing story coming on, and I wasn’t in the mood. However I began to see the characters moving toward a resolution of their closest hopes, dreams, and desires.

Woven in amongst the stories of Abel and Seth, are fragments of a fairy tale that had been handed down to Seth by his mother, who received them from her mother and so on back through quite a few generations.

This is Block’s debut novel, and I can’t wait for the next one to come along. Five stars.
--Chiron, 2/12/08

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