Ruby Donaldson is a vibrant woman, a lifelong activist who has always been completely independent and in control of her life ~ and that of at least one of her daughters. Now, at age 55, she has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's, and she is determined to continue to do what she wants to do despite what everyone else thinks. And what she wants to do is end her life before the disease takes over completely. But first, she has to pull her family back together before she goes.
Island Girl by Lynda Simmons is a touching and heartbreaking story, but it is also so much more. The story is told by three characters: Ruby, her oldest daughter Liz, and her youngest daughter Grace. While Ruby is dealing with Alzheimer's, her daughters have their own struggles. Liz is a former lawyer turned alcoholic after a tragic event related to her sister a few years ago. But she finds herself in the position to help a friend if she can only manage to straighten herself out. Grace has always been a little slow, so her mother has tried to shelter her and protect her all her life, which led to a major conflict between Ruby and Liz that Ruby is determined to resolve before she loses herself to "Big Al."
In addition to the challenges between mother and daughters, Ruby also finds herself reunited with a former lover who has always been like a father figure to her daughters. He is desperately trying to get Ruby to change her mind about doing herself in before the Alzheimer's takes over. And he is also determined to get mother and daughters back together again before it's too late.
This is a wonderful family drama that has plenty of storylines to keep the pages turning, without being overly complex. Despite the serious nature of the story, Simmons includes plenty of laughter and happiness as well. I will say I was concerned about how I would like hearing about Alzheimer's from Ruby's perspective since one of my favorite books, Still Alice by Lisa Genova, also has a woman with Alzheimer's as the narrator. But this book was very different, and I would highly recommend it. It's much more of a family story and gets into many other topics beyond Alzheimer's, including alcoholism, family dynamics, activism, suicide, coming of age issues, and much more. I would say Island Girl would make an excellent book club selection as well.
My Rating: 5/5
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This review was written based on a copy of Island Girl that I received from Pump Up Your Book in exchange for an honest review.
The author has graciously offered a copy of Island Girl to one of my readers. This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian addresses only. To enter, just leave a comment below with your email address.
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