If I Forget, You'll Remember

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About the Author: Carol Lynch Williams, a two-time winner of the Utah Original Writing Competition, is the author of several books for children, including two novels about the Orton family of New Smyrna, Florida: Kelly and Me and Adeline Street. A starred School Library Journal review of The True Colors of Caitlynne Jackson praises Williams as she "again demonstrates her facility at mood and character ...

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Overview

About the Author: Carol Lynch Williams, a two-time winner of the Utah Original Writing Competition, is the author of several books for children, including two novels about the Orton family of New Smyrna, Florida: Kelly and Me and Adeline Street. A starred School Library Journal review of The True Colors of Caitlynne Jackson praises Williams as she "again demonstrates her facility at mood and character development... Truer colors are hard to come by."


Her most recent novel, If I Forget, You Remember, is a moving intergenerational story that stresses the bonds that hold families together through difficult times--a help since over 19 million Americans have a family member with Alzheimer's disease.

Twelve-year-old Elyse's plan to write an award-winning novel during the summer is interrupted when her grandmother, who has Alzheimer's disease, moves in with the family.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Aspiring novelist Elyse's devotion to her grandmother, a victim of Alzheimer's disease, is mixed with embarrassment and sorrow. "In place of pat solutions, the author offers small but honest consolation" in this "touching" book, noted PW. Ages 9-12. (July) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Elyse Donaldson, the plucky narrator of this touching book, plans to write her first novel during her eventful 12th summer. She knows how to write it (with different colored crayons for each chapter), but she's not sure what she wants to say. Foremost on her mind is her grandmother, whose Alzheimer's disease has rapidly progressed. When Elyse's mother decides that Granny should come live with them, she eagerly forfeits her bedroom and looks forward to chats with her favorite confidante. But once Granny is under the same roof, it seems that she has moved farther away instead of nearer. Closely attuned to her audience, Williams (Kelly and Me; The True Colors of Caitlynne Jackson) shows how Elyse's devotion to her grandmother is mixed with embarrassment and sorrow. The timely central issue is perceptively balanced with more universal, less weighty concerns: Elyse's jealousy of her older sister, "Miss Perfect"; her run-ins with neighborhood bullies; her crush on a fellow writer (Bruce A., who is pretty special despite having "pizza breath"); and her repugnance for her mother's new boyfriend, "Dr. Dancing Dentist" Michael Lauret. In place of pat solutions, the author offers small but honest consolation: after highlighting Elyse's successive anger, false hope and acceptance, she ends with Elyse's realization that she can salvage and pass on memories her grandmother has losta credible and uplifting conclusion that may help readers as much as the protagonist. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)
VOYA - Darlene Kelm
Alzheimer's can be a horrendous ordeal for all who are close to someone with this debilitating disease. Having just finished sixth grade, Elyse's summer plans are greatly altered when her sick grandmother moves in with her, her older sister, and their widowed mother. Elyse and her sister soon learn that they must become allies to survive taking care of grandmother each day. When grandmother is in the present all goes well, but she often hallucinates about unreal danger, lives in the past, and greatly embarrasses her grandchildren when they are out together. Grandmother takes all the sweets off the shelf in K-Mart, insists she is being kidnapped by the girls, and spits back food into the buffet serving dishes. Elyse gains her own self-respect and acceptance of her large body when she becomes very good friends with a boy in her class as they publish a neighborhood newsletter together. She is extremely unhappy when her mother begins dating her boss but over the summer Elyse does mature and gradually accepts her mother's feelings. She learns the meaning of her grandmother's words "love makes things easier." Williams's characters are so well developed that readers will have much empathy with them. As a reader one feels the sisters' fears, frustrations, and embarrassment. The story is told in the first person as in the author's book The True Colors of Caitlynne Jackson (Delacorte, 1997). The smooth writing, tenderness, and excellent pacing keep the reader engrossed. Williams has a fine sense of relating to younger adolescents and their emotions. This would be a superb read-aloud story, giving students an insight to the problems of coping with Alzheimer's. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Broad general YA appeal, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8).
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7This novel tackles big themes, and the writing isn't quite up to the task. The summer after sixth grade is a turning point for Elyse Donaldson. Her beloved grandmother is suffering from Alzheimer's disease and her widowed mother is starting to date. The girl has a budding romance with a fellow writer and a confrontation with two bullies, and she is clashing with her too-perfect sister. Her ability to cope with the crises in her life, minor and major, is tested, and she emerges with a newfound sense of confidence and maturity. Unfortunately, the secondary characters are stock, as is the dialogue, and the predictable first-person narrative wears thin. Elyse's problems become wearisome rather than compelling. The resolutions to the various situations are often pat (the bullies are duly caught, the romance suffers but triumphs, the sister reveals her vulnerabilities), and only the scenes with Elyse's grandmother are truly affecting. Undemanding readers may find this acceptable, but those who are more discerning will deem it uninspiring.Cyrisse Jaffee, formerly at Newton Public Schools, MA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440414209
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 6/8/1999
  • Pages: 208
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.26 (w) x 7.65 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Meet the Author

Carol Lynch Williams, a two-time winner of the Utah Original Writing Competition, is the author of several books for children, including two novels about the Orton family of New Smyrna, Florida: Kelly and Me and Adeline Street. A starred School Library Journal review of The True Colors of Caitlynne Jackson praises Williams as she "again demonstrates her facility at mood and character development... Truer colors are hard to come by."

Her most recent novel, If I Forget, You Remember, is a moving intergenerational story that stresses the bonds that hold families together through difficult times--a help since over 19 million Americans have a family member with Alzheimer's disease.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

An Excerpt from If I Forget, You Remember

"Look," Jordan said, holding the plate out in front of her. "I made dinner
for you, Granny."

Granny rocked hard in the chair. She stuck her bottom lip out in a pout.
She seemed so strange to me, almost like a little kid.

Jordyn leaned forward and with the fork moved around bits of lettuce and
tomato.

"Elyse made the salad, Granny, see?"

"Poison." Granny said the word with such force that Jordyn jerked backward.
I saw beans jump on the white Corella plate. "Don't you think I know what
is going on? It's a plot against me."

"What?" Jordyn asked.

I felt my body tense up like I was getting ready for a race.

Granny pointed from me to Jordyn, her gnarled hands making jabbing pokes
at the air.

"I know what's going on. You can't fool me. I wasn't born yesterday, you
know."

Jordyn nodded but her mouth had dropped open now and couldn't seem to
stay shut, even though it opened and closed a few times.

"You're trying to kill me. I've seen it on 20/20. People murdering
their elderly family members."

Jordyn nodded again. "I will not be duped," Granny said, and with her
slippered foot she tried to kick Jordyn in the leg. Jordyn hopped back
and then turned and walked to where I was. We both retreated to the table,
even though we had finished our food long ago.

"Poison." Granny said again. "I will not beduped."

I looked wide-eyed at my sister. Her blue eyes were huge. I began to giggle.
"Don't laugh, Elyse," Jordyn said, but she grinned too. After a second
we were both laughing.

"Poison." Granny's voice floated around the corner.

Jordyn and I wheezed anew. When was the last time I had laughed with my
sister? It felt so good, like something was breaking open inside of me,
pure and clean.

Mom came into the kitchen. "The doctor said depression is normal for Alzheimer's
patients." She sat down at the table with us and I covered my mouth with
my hand. I laughed through my nose, snorting.

"Poison," Granny crowed from the front room.

It felt like my guts were being laughed loose. Jordyn slapped at the table,
making the forks jump.

"What?" Mom asked. But neither of us could tell her.


"So you're in on it, too, Sarah," Granny said from the doorway. She turned
in a huff and left the room.

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