Williams, Carol Lynch. If I Forget, You Remember. New York: Delacorte Press, 1998.
“Granny, this is Elyse.”
“Who?” Granny seemed really surprised, like I should be Addie.
“Me. Elyse. Your granddaughter.”
“I’ve dialed the wrong number. Who’d you say you are?”
“Elyse Donaldson, Granny.”
“I haven’t called Addie Webster?”
“No ma’am. You’ve reached your daughter’s house. And this is your granddaughter. “
Granny was quiet; then she said, “But what about that dirty old man? I tell you I’ve seen an old man staring in at me every time I look out the window.” Granny sounded like she was getting scared.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “I think you’re seeing your reflection in the window. There’s no way an old man could climb up your apartment building wall, not even if he had Spider-Man suction cups on his hands and feet.”
Granny took in a deep breath. When she spoke I knew she wasn’t scared anymore. She was just plain angry.
“Addie you can rot in hell. I am no one’s granny, as you say. I am as young as you are. In the prime of my life and you know it. You’re saying those nasty things because I won Miss Strawberry Days and you didn’t.” Granny slammed down the receiver. There was silence.
Elyse has the perfect plan for the summer--she's going to write a brilliant novel, with each chapter written in a different color. But then Granny moves in with them. At first, Elyse is thrilled, and ready to have long, fun conversations like they used to. However, she quickly realizes that Granny's mind is growing further and further away from the present.
This story made me so sad. But there was a lot of humor too, like the chapter headings. Great characters, great obstacles. It felt very real, I think it affected me so strongly because I could so easily see my own grandmother (who, thankfully, does not have Alzheimer’s, knock on wood) in the same position. This novel is able to grip the emotions without sinking into sentimentality, a true sign of quality writing.