Find out the latest indie author news. For FREE.

Formats
Paperback Details
  • 02/2021
  • 9781736408018
  • 102 pages
  • $9.99
Ebook Details
  • 02/2021
  • 9781736408025 B08RHKYVGY
  • 39 pages
  • $2.99
My Last Name
This brief novella is set a single day in the life of its narrator, ninety-five-year-old Lottie Barnes, now living in a care facility in her native Iowa. Restrained by the physical trappings of old age and cognitive decline, she struggles to comprehend her present surroundings. Nevertheless, her life story unfolds as she remembers key moments from her past with sharp clarity. This exploration of the expansive interior life of an elderly character near-death is a tender, sensitive, and quietly lyrical portrait. The spare and shimmering prose slides effortlessly between the past and the present with subtle symbolism and careful juxtaposition.
Reviews
Schumacher’s touching novella centers around the events of the last day of Charlotte Barnes’ life. Charlotte – Lottie as she is known – lives in an assisted living facility. She suffers from memory loss and, as she notes, “seem[s] to receive more assistance and do less living these days.” Lottie goes through brief moments of lucidity and longer periods of confusion as she spends the day going from her bed to her chair window and back again. As she does, she drifts through memories of her life, including the deaths of her husbands and child. Throughout the day, she is drawn back to the present by her caregivers before she peacefully dies in her sleep.

Lottie’s thoughts and experiences are front-and-center, which is a welcome change from many narratives about old age and memory loss that often focus on the experiences of children, spouses, and caregivers. Schumacher’s first-person narration adeptly shifts from Lottie’s moments of lucidity to her memories to her moments of confusion, all without losing the reader. Schumacher also brings commendable empathy to Lottie’s character. When we do get the perspectives of the caregivers–such as Sarah, who has tea dates with Lottie and clearly holds a place in her heart for her–it serves to further highlight Lottie’s feelings of confusion and isolation while effectively reminding readers of how the world perceives her.

On occasion, Schumacher recounts lists of facts from Lottie’s past, dwelling on names and dates rather than inviting readers to inhabit a moment. The sparse prose is mostly effective (“Only two men had ever kissed me, two men that I loved and who loved me”), but many of Lottie’s memories are set in the first decades of the 20th century with few period details to anchor them. Still, this quick read packs a lot of life--and a strong emotional punch--in just a few pages.

Takeaway: This tender novella will satisfy readers eager to look back at the end of a quiet life lived with dignity.

Great for fans of: Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread, Kathleen Rooney’s Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Formats
Paperback Details
  • 02/2021
  • 9781736408018
  • 102 pages
  • $9.99
Ebook Details
  • 02/2021
  • 9781736408025 B08RHKYVGY
  • 39 pages
  • $2.99

Loading...