What do you do when your outspoken, passionate, and quick-witted mother starts fading into a forgetful, fearful woman? In this powerful graphic memoir, Sarah Leavitt reveals how Alzheimer’s disease transformed her mother Midge—and her family—forever.
In spare black and white drawings and clear, candid prose, Sarah shares her family’s journey through a harrowing range of emotions—shock, denial, hope, anger, frustration—all the while learning to cope with a devastating diagnosis, and managing to find moments of happiness. Tangles confronts the complexity of Alzheimer’s disease, and gradually opens a knot of moments, memories, and dreams to reveal a bond between a mother and a daughter that will never come apart.
“Sarah Leavitt uses the medium of comics to tell her story with more economy and power than either words or pictures could muster by themselves. She brings a good eye for the telling detail—the small observations that reveal larger truths—to her memoir of a family in crisis. Tangles is the work of a perceptive, creative, and honest storyteller” — Brian Fies, author of Mom’s Cancer
“Brimming with humility and insight, Leavitt proves herself a skilled and unflinching memoirist. Her spare, evocative illustrations and the tender restraint of her prose will leave you breathless, heartbroken, and profoundly grateful.” — Nancy Lee, author of Dead Girls
“An extraordinarily moving and vivid account, in text and cartoon-style pictures, of the life and death of an Alzheimer’s patient.” — John Bayley, author of Elegy for Iris
“Tangles comprises brief chapters that move back and forth in time. And it is guided by the open-hearted pen of the author, who manages to balance the stories of her mother as a principled individual and a dedicated educator in her professional life alongside detailing the engulfing humiliations of Alzheimer’s, such as when her mother is no longer able to dress or feed herself, and, when incontinent, needs to be bathed....Samuel Johnson once wrote that ‘the true art of memory is the art of attention,’ and those words have been well served by Tangles. Under the watchful gaze of Sarah Leavitt and through the making of a graphic memoir—another form of ritual—the life of her mother is now bound and contained.” — Bernice Eisenstein, The Globe and Mail 10/16/2010
“As the rate of Alzheimer’s continues to increase as the population ages, Tangles joins Jeffrey Moore’s novel The Memory Artists and Sarah Polley’s film Away from Her at the head of a list of illuminating and much-needed artistic responses.” — Ian McGillia, National Post 12/10/2010