Krista Mueller is in a good place. She’s got a successful career as a professor of history; she’s respected and well-liked; and she lives hundreds of miles from her hometown and the distant mother she could never please. It’s been more than a decade since Alzheimer’s disease first claimed Charlotte Mueller’s mind, but Krista has dutifully kept her mother in a first-class nursing home.
Now Charlotte is dying of heart failure and, surprised by her own emotions, Krista rushes to Taos, New Mexico, to sit at her estranged mother’s side as she slips away. Battling feelings of loss, abandonment, and relief, Krista is also unsettled by her proximity to Dane McConnell, director of the nursing home—and, once upon a time, her first love. Dane’s kind and gentle spirit—and a surprising discovery about her mother—make Krista wonder if she can at last close the distance between her and her mother … and open the part of her heart she thought was lost forever.
I am a grand-daughter and great-grand-daughter of Alzheimer’s. I was too young to remember when Nana died back in 1980, but my grand-mother passed in January 2009. I was in the USA, but the phone conversations with my mother were difficult. I got an indication of what my mother must have gone through several times while reading this. There are the times we want back, when we wish could have said what needed to be said while my grandmother still understood. There are the times we look back and wonder if my grandmother’s mind was failing her at certain points of our lives before the diagnosis. There is a throwaway, but oh so important passage, where Krista can’t remember the name of an aide at the nursing home. “My mind briefly leapt to Alz as the reason, but I quickly cast the thought away.” My mother and I have often expressed the same thought. Are we being normal forgetful or is it our fate inching toward us? And, finally, I wish my grandmother could have been in a nursing home as Cimarron, a place of the author’s creating.
This novel was first released in 2002 as Christmas Every Morning. I didn’t know about it back then, so I’m glad Waterbrook decided to re-release it. And, although the book is set around Christmas, the change in title removes it from the seasonal-only perspective of book sellers and marketers. I read this in September: the Christmas-time setting didn’t bother me. The descriptions of Taos, New Mexico, were beautiful. I looked it up online in an effort to learn more. There’s a leisurely pace to both the town and the narrative that reminded me of my own time in western Arizona. Some of the flashbacks were confusing, mainly because I didn’t know when they were set and because the plot takes place in 2002 and not today. The abbreviating of Alzheimer’s to Alz was also jarring. I’ve never heard anyone call it this before, not my family nor anyone else who has gone through this with a loved one. Aside from these two issues, I loved reading this book. I had it read in two days, and I’m not ashamed to say I cried at the end.
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
Page Count: 240
Release Date: 16 August 2011 (re-release)
I received my free copy of Mercy Come Morning from Waterbrook Multnomah’s Blogging For Books program in exchange for an honest review.