There are people who try hard to forget their problems. All Ruby wants to do is remember...
Ruby Donaldson has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's Disease, and she'll be damned if she won't straighten out her troubled family before she no longer knows how.
Ruby spent years fighting to hold on to the home her grandmother built on Ward's Island. The only way she can ensure that her younger, mentally scarred daughter Grace can live there for the rest of her life is to convince her older daughter, Liz, to sober up and come home.
Ruby always thought she'd have a lifetime to make things right, but suddenly time is running out. She has to put her broken family back together quickly while searching for a way to deal with the inevitable- and do it with all the grit, stubbornness, and unstoppable determination that makes Ruby who she is...until she's Ruby no longer.
Canadian novelist Simmons (Getting Rid of Rosie) returns with a real weeper. At 55, Ward Island hair stylist Ruby Donaldson has enjoyed a bohemian life full of romance and adventure. But early-onset Alzheimer's, or "Big Al" as she calls it, is a tough diagnosis to accept. She worries about what will happen to Grace, her 20-something daughter who has recently moved back home, seeing the island as a safe refuge after a personal tragedy. Ruby's older daughter, Liz, is an alcoholic who left home for Toronto's more hectic offerings, her exact whereabouts unknown. But Ruby, who has no intention of going through Alzheimer's full debilitation, needs to find Liz and reconnect; she wants someone to look after Grace when she's gone. Simmons exhibits an exquisitely deft understanding of the extraordinary difficulties that unite a family, and her portrayals of the three women, told in alternating first-person chapters, enable satisfying connections with each. Ruby's tender ex, a father figure to both Liz and Grace, and his grumpy goth 12-year-old daughter, are also well-drawn, helping alleviate the novel's compounding sorrow.