Thursday, May 2, 2013

Review: Field of Daisies

An unusual book, relevant subject matter . . .

Field of Daisies by Barbara Hattemer is an unusual novel, one that I was very glad to discover. Barbara draws from personal experience as she writes about the difficult subject of degenerative disease with stark realism, but in a way that offers hope to families experiencing Alzheimer's disease in successive generations.

Publisher's description:

Andrea and Lans Mulder met as young teenagers on Andrea’s family farm in Pennsylvania, renewed their romance as young adults during an enchanted week in Paris, and married in a storybook wedding in a field of daisies.

With two growing children, their life has been as close to perfect as you can imagine. But when the destructive degenerative disease of Alzheimer’s strikes the third generation of Andrea’s family, can even a made-for-each-other couple stand strong—and stay together? Especially when Andrea herself faces the worst news of her life?

My thoughts

This book is well researched, but the best part is that Barbara writes from the heart, based on personal experience. Alzheimer's will eventually touch most of us in some way, and Barbara uses her narrative to show what the disease is like and how it can affect family relationships.

In a particularly revealing scene shortly after Andrea's mother starts a kitchen fire, Barbara writes:

All her life the daisies had brought her joy and comforted her when she hurt. Today they made her sad, reminding her of relationships that were no more, relationships that even now were slipping away. . . . Lans refused to believe she could not leave her mother. She understood that he felt neglected, but why was he distancing himself from her? He had agreed to have Evelyn live in their house, but having his mother-in-law under his roof was changing him. As Andrea found herself catering to her mother's demands rather than meeting the needs of her husband, she saw the danger, but she felt helpless to do anything about it. All her life she had longed for her mother's attention. Now there was no escape from it. . . . She and Lans were still together, but emotionally they were as far apart as they were physically separated.

In a perfect world, Lans would have been the understanding and supportive husband, always putting others' needs before himself, never jealous or immature, quick to pray with Andrea and put the situation in God's hands. But while I struggled to like him at times, wondering how he could react in such a way after so many years of happy marriage, no one knows how they will respond to such a difficult situation until they experience it.

Andrea, on the other hand, is a complex character, easy to relate to. Faced with the fear of inheriting this genetic disease, she turns to the Bible and realizes that God is our healer, and that He longs to bless His children.
Barbara shares on her website:  "I wrote Field of Daisies to give hope to people like me who fear they may be next, and to caretakers and friends. I have lived this story of three generations of Alzheimer's disease. While the romance between Andrea and Lans is pure fiction, the facts about Alzheimer's are taken from my family experience. Caregivers respond that the book offers an accurate portrayal of what happens in real life."
Field of Daisies deals with serious subject matter in an uplifting, inspirational way - for even in the most difficult situation, there is always hope. I would recommend this book to anyone, but especially those whose lives may be touched by a debilitating hereditary disease like Alzheimer's.
Barbara's website and blog offer a lot of helpful resources. See for more information.
This book was provided by in exchange for my honest review.

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