It might seem odd that so soon after my mother's death from Alzheimer's, I'd pick a book called "All Gone: A Memoir of My Mother's Dementia, with Refreshments." I happen to find books on relevant topics soothing at times of stress or sadness. I know that wouldn't work for many people, but it does for me. To each his own, right?
Unfortunately, this was not the book I was hoping for. Wouldn't you think a book that has "A Memoir of My Mother's Dementia" as a subtitle would focus almost entirely on that aspect?
Instead, this is a mishmash of information about Alex Witchel's own life, her career, her relationship with her siblings; she's a food writer, but the food connection to her mother is tenuous--she seems to have had more of a food relationship with her grandmothers than her own mother, who didn't really like to cook.
Sure, there are parts about her mother's dementia. Mostly it's about Witchel's feelings about the dementia. And all the things Witchel did to try and stop the dementia, which is understandable, if rather a lost cause. There's very little about her siblings' response to the dementia, and most of the parts about her father are about her own dysfunctional relationship with him.
This could have been an insightful, downright searing, read about this all too prevalent condition. Instead, it read as if written in haste and it could have used a good edit. More, though, it could have used some significant focus.
The refreshments are recipes at the end of the chapters. There are some related to her mother, but some have nothing to do with her. Witchel is a food writer and apparently really wanted to make this connection, but it's forced too often.
The ending is slap-bang fast. We've plodded along Witchel's path with her mother, then whoosh! Three years have past! Mom's still alive! But we don't know how her disease has progressed (and over three years, it's likely to have progressed quite a lot), yet the book just--ends.
For a better--if fictional--look at dementia, you're better off reading Turn of Mind.