A Slender Thread explores how family dynamics shift after the linchpin in the family is diagnosed with a serious degenerate disease. It’s not a lighthearted romp of a summer beach read. Instead, it’s a thoughtful exploration of what could happen in any family when a loved one is struck by a serious illness. Even though the subject may not be the most upbeat, I liked the book.
Margot Winkler always relied on her older sister Lacey. Lacey helped her navigate the emotional turbulence of a childhood with an alcoholic mother. Lacey helped her disengage from a bad marriage. Then the roles are reversed when Lacey is diagnosed with Primary Progressive Aphasia. This disease is a form of frontotemporal dementia. The patient slowly loses the ability to use language – first the use of speech, and later the ability to understand language, read or write. How will Margot cope with the potential loss of her sister? How will Lacey cope with the eventual loss of her ability to communicate?
Lacey and her husband Alex have twin daughters, Wink and Toni, who are in their senior year in high school when Lacey’s difficulty in finding words while trying to speak is diagnosed. She wants to keep the diagnosis from her daughters so they can enjoy their last year in high school. Alex wants to tell them so they understand what their mother is dealing with. The story also shows how their marriage is strained as Alex and Lacey deal with the prognosis in very different ways.
Margot lives in New York City with a rather self-centered artist named Oliver. She works in an art gallery and neglects her own urges to become a painter. Alex keeps pulling Margot into his family decisions and discussions with his daughters. When she falls in with Alex’s decisions, she alienates both Lacey and Oliver. Will she learn to make more adult decisions without outside influences? Will her relationship with Oliver survive this process? Will she emerge as a painter in her own right?
I enjoyed how the author cleverly subtitled each chapter with appropriate weaving definitions. Lacey is a weaver, so it was interesting to see how the author included the weaving terminology and weaving scenes into her story. Sometimes things do hang in the balance by a single thread.
While there were some slow spots in A Slender Thread, and once in awhile I wanted to shake Margot and tell her to make her own decisions already; ultimately I thought the book was worth the time I invested to read it. It made me wonder how I would handle things if either I or someone close to me was diagnosed with this disease.
Krista lives just outside the urban sprawl of Portland, Oregon. Lamentably, her work as a technical writer and business analyst often interferes with her reading which is a true passion.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by NAL Trade. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.