I haven't been super emotional throughout the book until this last section, when I felt things all came full circle and it was devastatingly sad. Especially realizing Ed likely knew about the Alzheimer's so much earlier than the book even mentioned anything weird, explaining why he wasn't interested in taking any of those other jobs...
Ed dies, quite suddenly but this has been a trend in Thomas' writing throughout. He just jumps through life events, I mentioned before how much I like this. No use writing these awful death scenes. It was getting so hard with Ed being non verbal, and we find out Eileen has been paying seven THOUSAND dollars for his nursing home which is, good god if I ever have to put someone in one of those... yikes. I thought the line "this disease was making her paranoid too" was really powerful because doesn't it affect everybody? You'd start to feel like everything was unraveling... I felt really sad when Eileen expresses how she wished she could have one night back in her bed with Ed to sleep facing him, because she spent their whole life sleeping facing the other way. This is so sad, you take these little things for granted.
I was really happy with the way things went with Connell as the book ended. From him seeing his dad's face in the mirror to flirting with that girl on the plane home to see his sick dad and feeling that guilt, I feel like he really grew up. Then there was the letter which... ugh... full tears. I can't handle letters like that circa P.S. I Love You. My favourite line from the letter was "the way you know me as your father is the way I most purely am." It's so weird to think that so many different people know you as so many different things, and this isn't something I ever think about but I've been fascinated with this since, which version are you really? I think its so sweet that Ed says he's most purely Connell's dad. He wasn't trying too hard, or overcompensating, or pretending at all in that role. It's a cool concept to think about. I also loved seeing Connell marry a lawyer, as Eileen always wanted to be one and it's like somehow her son has accomplished all the things she wanted him to. It was a really nice touch I think.
The final parts where Eileen goes back to Jackson Heights killed me the most. I loved the line about her dying in her big house, "this was life: you went down with the ship, who was to say that wasn't a love story?" She sees that family genuinely happy to be living in her old house and wonders why she never was, wishing she'd stayed there for Ed... it's all too much. I also love her finally realizing she loves Indian food after being "too angry to try it" which is probably too true about too many people. So much symbolism it could kill.
Overall I found this book too slow and too sad for what I normally like to read, but by the end I can see why its such an amazing book and so well regarded. I guess that's the point of book club, to take you outside your comfort zone and read things you wouldn't usually!
In these sections we see Eileen decide to put Ed into a nursing home, which is obviously a super difficult decision for anyone to have to make. I did like these parts because we had to move my grandmother into a nursing home and she has been there over the last few years. Some of the residents there suffer from different types of dementia like Ed, and there were some really relatable parts in the book.
It makes me wonder if Matthew Thomas has had someone in his life who’s suffered from dementia.
I love when Eileen is starting to get to know all the residents and some of their “quirks” that have come out because of the disease. My parents, and me and my sister to some extent, have gotten to know some of the residents at my grandmother’s nursing home. We know who has a great long-term memory but can’t remember where the cafeteria is.
And hey! We are done We Are Not Ourselves can you believe it? And I don’t feel like burning it to the ground like I did with Moby Dick. Obviously this book is very sad, but I’m glad I read it. Will I be thinking about it for months? No. It honestly just feels like any other book about Alzheimer’s. I don’t regret reading it, but I don’t think it is memorable and I’m surprised it got the positive critical reception that it did.
I’m looking forward to our next book club because I feel like the subject matter will be easier to discuss. Announcement coming soooooooooon!