Updated: Apr 9
Title: Never Forget Eleanor
Author: Jason June
Illustrated by: Loren Long
What's it about?
Elijah adores his grandmother. She seems to know all of the words in the dictionary and has a brilliant memory for people and their stories. Elijah is amazed by it! She could remember everything...until she couldn't. Little by little she started to forget. First it was a word here and there, then it was stories and her routine, including some of her favorite things. But then, she forgot how to get back home. Elijah wanted to help his grandmother and did everything he could to but all things come to an end and at the end, it's up to those still living to find a way to keep her memory alive.
Favorite Character: I think I'll have to go with Eleanor and Elijah. Eleanor just seemed so fun and wise and I appreciate her love and respect for words and stories. I loved that Eleanor knew that people and stories matter.
Elijah was just so cute and smart. I loved how he brainstormed to find ways to help his grandma. It was just so sweet.
Favorite Part: There were a few parts that I really liked but I think I'm going to have to go with the end when Elijah is remembering his grandmother and keeping her memory alive by sharing her favorite stories like she did.
Least Favorite Part: My least favorite part was when Eleanor died. Now, with that being said,
I thought they handled the death of Eleanor very well and respectful. There was a beauty to it, but, as a person who last their grandmother, it was hard and, I must admit, it did cause me to well up. That's why I chose this part as my least favorite part.
I grew up in nursing homes because my mom worked in nursing homes throughout my childhood. I witnessed a dementia unit come into reality when I was in elementary school. It was just my normal life. But, that being my normal, I saw that it wasn't most other kids' normal. I found a lot of people really didn't understand so much of what I saw regularly. I remember being surprised when friends would find themselves in a situation in which their loved one was wading into the world of dementia and what not and having no idea what was happening and what to expect. As an adult, I was on the other end. I was the mother with three children who adored their great grandmother who was like another mother to me and trying to figure out how to explain to my kids what was happening with Grammy and what to expect. Though she didn't suffer from dementia, it was so hard to talk about approaching some really hard times as our Grammy deteriorate with age and changed both in her needs and her personality. I didn't know how to guide my kids through such difficult experiences and I didn't have a stack of books sitting on my nightstand to read with my kids to help us all open the conversation and navigate through our reality. So this book, on so many levels just hit me. It impacted me and very much made me tear up.
Also, coincidently, my 13 year old recently played a video game where one of the characters had dementia and she, being born after my mother left the world of the nursing home employment and wasn't raised visiting nursing homes regularly, didn't know what dementia was. I tried to explain it to her, but sitting down and reading this book even with her, it helped her better understand. It reopened the conversation comfortably and I was really appreciative of being able to have that experience with the help of a book.
To be fair, this book isn't for everyone and it does have an emotional kick to it, even for adults (or maybe just me) but it's beautiful. It's done realistically enough to open conversations and apply to multiple situations. It's the kind of book that introduces the subject and helps explain the general idea while still being vague enough allow you to infuse or address events, symptoms, expectations ect. that are relevant in your family's situation and I really appreciate that, too, becuase everyone is unique, and, so, their stories will be unique, even their stories with dementia and how it effects the others in their lives.
I'm really excited to share this book. I love that it attacks topics that are hard to broach in a true and gentle way. I loved how it wasn't dark and scary or "haha this person in my life forgot this word and said this instead. Isn't it funny? They're like a comedy act! Come see!". It's just here are things that are common and here are some coping strategies to help get through it. Emotions are okay, and it will be scary and sad sometimes. There are ways to work through it, though.
I give this book a
But that's just what I thought. What did you think? Did you hate this book? Did it make you cry, too? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.