Thursday 17 July 2014

Book Review of Flee, Fly, Flown by Janet Hepburn


When Lillian and Audrey hatch a plot to escape from 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. But their trip is almost over before it begins, until they meet up with the unsuspecting Rayne, a young hitchhiker. 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.


Flee, Fly, FlownFlee, Fly, Flown by Janet Hepburn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

This is not my usual genre of book, and when I was first approached about reading this story, I was going to turn it down. However, after reading the synopsis and thinking about it, I decided to give it a try. I am so glad I did, because I LOVED it!

Lillian is a wonderful lady. I loved this feisty octogenarian. I could imagine her as a younger woman with a backbone of steel and a penchant for taking risks. I began to cheer her on, as she embarked on an amazing adventure with her friend Audrey, and a young man called Rayne.

Audrey is also a wonderful character. She is a woman who has not had an easy life, though her mousy demeanor hides her adventurous spirit. Her trusting nature is one thing I loved about her. She is probably the best friend anyone could have, as her loyalty is given to so few.

I started to read this book, expecting it to be a comedic adventure. How wrong I was! This book took me on an amazing adventure with two strong females struck down by a disease that has stripped them of freedom and dignity. I struggled to put this book down, and even then, it was grudgingly when I had to.

Lillan and Audrey, in their "sane" moments, realise that there is more to life than watching TV and taking pills in a nursing home, and plot an escape to have a holiday from the constant, unwanted attention of the well meaning nurses. Their minds, dulled by the disease at times, are incredibly sharp and curious when lucid. This made for some humorous events, including the scene where Rayne was recruited to drive the two ladies from Ottawa to British Columbia. Their journey is full of anecdotes of the lives they once had, which brought these characters to life in my minds eye. Rayne is a troubled young man, but his empathy and sensitivity towards the two older women was very touching. I liked this young man. He is kind, considerate and, although a bit selfish at times, caring. I found the ending to be a bit bittersweet, but I will find that this story will stay with me for some time to come.

Alzheimer's is a disease that, thankfully, has not affected my family. Yet. However, this story has opened my eyes to how people affected by this disease are basically prisoners to it. They have no idea that they are sick, and when the episode has cleared, there is no recollection of their behaviour or actions. However, when they are "normal", they find themselves confined or too drugged to understand. Putting a person with Alzheimer's into a home is a hard decision for a family. However, some people cannot look after their family member/s the way they need, so a home is the only option. Although I have great sympathy for the families affected, I also feel for the person afflicted by the disease. It can't be easy to find yourself in a place that can restrict your freedom, and make you feel like you have no dignity left.

Janet Hepburn has written a fantastic debut novel. I love her writing style, and the flow was wonderful. She has dealt with the subject of Alzheimer's with sensitivity and care. I would definitely read more of this author's books in the future.

I highly recommend this book to everyone, whether you know someone with Alzheimer's or not. - Lynn Worton

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