Title: Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me
Author: Sarah Leavitt
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Genre: Graphic Memoir, Non-Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
When Sarah Leavitt’s mother is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at a young age, Sarah decides she’s going to chronicle their journey in a graphic novel. She takes the reader through the sad, hopeless experience that is watching someone you love deteriorate as a result of this unforgiving disease.
When you open Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me, you know exactly what the story will be about, as well as how it will end. This isn’t a book you read to get to the ending. Instead, it’s a learning experience and devastating emotional journey as the reader sees what Sarah experienced when her mother, Midge, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Leavitt does a great job giving the reader a solid background and portraying her mother as a strong, confident woman. It makes her degeneration all the more tragic.
Tangles is incredibly powerful. It’s a difficult book to read, to be sure, as the reader can’t help but imagine themselves in Leavitt’s shoes. Watching Sarah’s mother avoid her diagnosis as much as possible, and then watching her deteriorate to the point where she doesn’t even know what she used to be - it’s definitely emotional. It’s impossible to understand what dealing with Alzheimer’s (or dementia in general) is like if you haven’t experienced it yourself, but Leavitt does an amazing job conveying it as much as possible to the reader.
This is a graphic memoir, with stark black and white drawings to illustrate the story. They’re very effective. Leavitt is a talented artist and writer, and she tells her story beautifully. If you’ve ever wondered whether a graphic memoir can really get the emotion across that a text-based book can, you should pick up Tangles. The simplicity of the drawings, the starkness of the text; it underlines the difficult situation perfectly.
Though Tangles, Sarah Leavitt conveys the difficult web of emotions that comes with Alzheimer’s - frustration, anger, and sadness, but most of all, Leavitt shows us that there is an enduring, unadulterated love. It’s a wonderful message for such a sad story. If you’ve ever had this tragedy happen to you, or are experiencing it now, you should not hesitate to read this book. Not only is it eye-opening about what you will have to face, but Leavitt wrote the memoir in an effort to help other families experiencing something similar cope with the diagnosis. No matter how you approach it, though, Tangles is one of the best, most emotional memoirs I’ve ever read, graphic or otherwise.