Thursday, May 8, 2014

Flee, Fly, Flown by Janet Hepburn

When Lillian and Audrey hatch a plot to escape from
Riley liked this one too
Tranquil Meadows Nursing Home, “borrow” a car, and spend their hastily planned vacation time driving to destinations west, they aren’t fully aware of the challenges they will face. All they know is that the warm days of August call to them, and the need to escape the daily routines and humiliations of nursing home life has become overwhelming.

Flushed with the success of their escape plan, they set out on their journey having forgotten that their memory problems might make driving and following directions difficult. Their trip is almost over before it begins, until they meet up with the unsuspecting Rayne, a young man also heading west in hope of reconciling with his family.

As Lillian and Audrey try to take back the control that time and dementia has taken from them, Rayne realizes the truth of their situation. But it’s too late – he has fallen under the spell of these two funny, brave women and is willing to be a part of their adventure, wherever it leads them.

Loved it! Wonderfully written.
I haven't read a book quite like this before.  Tackling the subject of Alzheimer's disease in fiction has been, from my reading experience, treated either as a full on tragedy or as comic relief.  This Janet Hepburn manages to offer the humour and the tragedy of the condition but dos so without minimizing the characters or their humanity and liveliness.  Hepburn, without preaching, reminds us that people are people, whatever life has brought them and that life does not end with a diagnoses or a move to the Home.

 I very much liked that the author choose to make Lillian his narrator. Her experiences and point of view made Flee, Fly, Flown an intimate tale from within. Telling it from Rayne's point of view or from a third person narrative would have changed the essence of the story into something too removed from the reader and lost the amount of heart, humour and realness that it currently offers.

I was left with a few questions...

I strongly suspect the girls flew home to Ottawa and then Lillian and Audrey returned to the Home. I would hope that once Carol calmed down she took a moment to listen to Lillian and supported her in staying in the same home as Audrey. To separate these two friends seems beyond cruel.

I would also have like to hear that Carol finished the trip with them before flying back to Ottawa, but given the past actions and attitude displayed by Carol, it would be a far stretch to expect such a quick change of heart.

I also worried a bit about the dog, Shadow. The last mention of her was going down the river and then lying on the floor not moving with Rayne looking quite sad. I truly hope that his sadness was over the realization that caring for these ladies was becoming beyond his control and not at the loss of his beloved four-legged friend.  In my ending, the dog was tired and ended up out west with Rayne.

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