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Michael James
In DEAR JUDY–A LOVE STORY REWRITTEN BY ALZHEIMER'S, the author reconstructs, honestly and with great sensitivity, the couple's experience of artist Judith James’s early onset Alzheimer's diagnosis and their journey through the multiple advancing stages of her disease. He explores their accommodation of the successive and accelerating losses and the accompanying grief, and the eventual acceptance that allowed light to dissolve the darkness into which their relationship had been unexpectedly cast. Readers are privy to some of the most intimate moments in a marriage upended by this disease and by the curve balls it would throw. In this unflinching meditation and reflection, we learn that life can indeed be enriched by adversity, and that love can, against strong odds, expand, deepen, and ultimately reach its fulfillment. An indispensable record of the Alzheimer's caregiving experience, DEAR JUDY–A LOVE STORY REWRITTEN BY ALZHEIMER'S offers dementia caregivers and their loved ones a model for how this disease's circumstances can be understood and successfully navigated.
This heart-rending debut paints a profound portrait of Alzheimer’s devastating effects on a devoted couple. Michael and Judy James had been married for nearly 40 years when she was diagnosed with younger onset Alzheimer’s, at just 61-years-old. Through a series of riveting letters he composed to Judy—a creative spirit who always maintained a disciplined diet and active lifestyle—Michael pens a beautifully vulnerable narrative of their life together before and after Judy's diagnosis. His reminiscing ranges from the youthful whims of their early married years to the ravages of the disease, their teamwork—and his gentle love—always pulsing steadily in the background.

"I felt that we were launched in a too-small skiff onto some boundless black sea, no hint of shore in any direction, no rudder to steer with, a single oar—our union—to randomly slap at the water’s cold and bleak surface," James writes, encapsulating the relentless, uncharted fate the couple must navigate. The deeper the story goes, the more impactful the letters, and James conveys the depth of his love for Judy while remaining candid about his naturally humane reactions—frustration, irritation, impatience, and eventually, guilt—when things go haywire during the latter stages of the disease.

The moments of grief are as devastating as the moments of love are compelling: when Judy learns the disease has progressed to the point she can no longer drive alone, her keening response—“I just want my life back”—is painfully authentic, as is James’s growing awareness that “little by little I was becoming her warden, her jailer, and sometimes I think she saw me that way.” But even in the darkest times, their love forms a strong foundation, and James ends with a last missive to Judy, sharing his gratitude for the chance to rebuild his life after her death—“I know now I’d wish this life for you, if you’d survived me.”

Takeaway: A touching anthem on love’s power in the face of Alzheimer’s disease.

Comparable Titles: Meryl Comer's Slow Dancing with a Stranger, Lisa Genova's Still Alice.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: NA
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A