Fed up with her waitressing job, Bec, an aimless undergraduate… idling through her studies and an affair with a married professor, answers a classified job listing for an in-home caregiver. Sheis anticipating a ‘tremulous and elderly’ employer, ‘someone you take one look at and know she needs your help.’ Instead she finds Kate, a wealthy, pretty and unfailingly tasteful 36-year-old with Lou Gehrig’s disease. In a wheelchair, vocally impaired and at times literally helpless, Kate nevertheless projects a charismatic and occasionally fearsome personality. As Bec takes on added duties for her employer — in one scene she helps Kate use a vibrator — she finds herself taking sides in Kate’s failing marriage and making momentous decisions for which she is unprepared. Wildgen’s debut novel falters a bit in its second half, when Bec’s latent passion for food preparation comes to the fore. But in Kate and Bec, she has created a memorable pair, defined by mutual need and attachment. This closely observed novel illuminates some of the ways debilitating illness transforms not only those stricken but also the people who care for them.
From PopMatters: “Wildgen’s believable details within assist in making this touching and sincere story compelling. Wildgen impresses especially with her descriptions of Kate’s daily routine, a vividly comprehensive representation of ALS and the severity with which it affects not only Kate, but also her husband, family, and friends.”
From Blogging Near Philadelphia: “You’re Not You by Michelle Wildgen is excellent. Certainly worth an A- and maybe even an A. A young woman, ambivalent about her college courses, and otherwise normal and relatively healthy emotionally take s a job as a caregiver for a woman with Lou Gehrig disease. Bec is likeable and credible; Kate, the beautiful, tasteful, and rich patient is less credible but also likeable. It was fascinating to read how as Bec’s caregiving, of necessity, becomes more and more intimate, the line between her self and Kate’s self becomes fuzzy. Beautifully written and engrossing. Give it a try!”
This book sounds depressing, in a Million Dollar Baby way, but the reviews are good enough that I am intrigued. Has anyone out there read it or heard of it?