Reflective Reviews, Wonderful Writing

Review: “What Lurks In The Woods”

Rick from Stress Free Book Marketing asked me if I would like to read this one: I’m very glad I did, as it is a powerful memoir. Enjoy my 5 star review!


What Lurks In The Woods is immediately engaging: Nicole Bell searches for the right words which inform but don’t alarm her young son, as to why the behaviour of his father is changing and unpredictable.

This memoir is the author’s tribute to the man she married: the man she lost to disease. Russ’s illness is mysterious, not easily diagnosable, especially when it comes to the cause. Lack of familial pre-disposition to Alzheimer’s did not stop Russ suffering from it. Formidable grit is evident as Bell harnesses her professional skills in the tenacious fight for her husband’s health:

Being a caregiver was new to me, but working with people and problems wasn’t. I tried to see parallels between my work with Russ and my work in the office. The doctor was now my program manager in the most important project I’d ever undertaken.

Her incredibly detailed, tabulated case history assists the doctors immensely. However, in presenting it to the medicos she:

forgot the one that mattered most: Russ … how demoralizing it was for Russ to sit there and hear me talk about all his issues … With every spoken word, he felt more broken.

Effective use of dialogue synthesises the abundance of unfamiliar terminology into lay terms. This, alongside reminiscences and descriptions of daily activities, keeps the writing fresh through easily-accessible prose and pace … while simultaneously providing the reader with a break from the incessant medical world. Happy times are described:

Give two engineers the chance to plan their dream vacation doing their favorite pastime, and apparently, a three-hundred-page binder pops out.

The audience rides the waves that the author endures, each stressor growing larger and more intense as Russ’s illness progresses. Bell applies herself to an overwhelming regime of pills, dietary changes and therapies, yet learns with sorrow that she is not able to fix her life-partner as she so aptly fixes the problems within her work:

I forgot I wasn’t talking to Russ. I was talking to a shell that looked like Russ.

What Lurks In The Woods is gut-wrenching, yet tender and full of love: a heartfelt story of a family whose foundations are rocked to the core. Those with personal experience of Alzheimer’s or tick-borne diseases will recognise the deep pain and trauma associated with trying to manage family, work and an increasingly-sick loved one for whom science provides no easy answers.

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