Island Girl

( 6 )


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 ...

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Island Girl

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. (Dec.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425237243
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 12/7/2010
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 575,334
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Lynda Simmons is the author of Getting Rid of Rosie. She lives in Canada.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I had to bring this book home!

    A poignant and gripping novel about the power of family, relationships, and mental illness. I first found this book in the library and then had to add it to my collection at home. The dynamics between the mother affected with Alzheimer's and her daughters, one of which is an alcoholic, were honest and moving. She reunites with someone very important in their lives and continues to pursue suicide as an option and a way out before she loses herself completely to Alzheimer's. A must-read for anyone touched by these issues, as well as watching your parent struggle with aging or children becoming independent and finding their way in the world. The dynamics of all involved are well plotted and descriptive, often told from a different member of the family each chapter. A true bird's eye view and a page turner to the end.

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  • Posted July 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Island Girl

    Ruby Donaldson, a 55-year old woman, is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. She decides to put her life and death in order. She has to two daughters Grace (who is about to get married) and Liz (once a promising lawyer, now an alcoholic). This novel is written from the point of view of each of these three women with alternating chapters.

    This novel is not only about a dysfunctional family having to deal with such a devastating disease, but also about the relationships within that family. This is a highly emotional story with strong characters. Although, a little slow at first, once we begin to know the characters, they story picks up and the reader becomes intertwined in the various lives and subplots. Even the ending was a bit troublesome. Bring your tissues and be ready for an emotional rollercoaster.

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  • Posted June 19, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great book!!!

    "Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, and at present irreversible, brain disorder that is characterized by a steady decline in cognitive, behavioral and physical abilities severe enough to interfere with everyday life and necessitate full time care. Symptoms vary from person to person, but all people with Alzheimer's disease have problems with memory loss, disorientation and thinking ability. Individuals with Alzheimer's disease may have trouble finding the right words to use, recognizing objects (such as a pencil), recognizing family and friends, and may become frustrated, irritable, and agitated. As the disease progresses, physical problems may include loss of strength and balance, and diminishing bladder and bowel control. As more and more of the brain is affected, areas that control basic life functions, like swallowing and breathing, become irreversibly damaged, resulting eventually in death" With that said, as I am sure this is true in most families, Alzheimer's has affected our family first hand. I worked in a nursing home for 24+ years, so I knew how it affected families and caregivers. My husband's aunt suffered from this debilitating illness, thankfully for her she was in her late 80's and lived to be 94 when she died. We had to make the decision to put her in the nursing home that I worked at so she would be close to us and I knew she would get good care. Watching this former teacher, very intelligent and 'proper lady' decline to the point of being in a fetal position and refusing food was so very hard on all of us, to the point that our four children would not want to see her and just remember the aunt that they at times feared and always loved as the time went by. Island Girl by Lynda Simmons is a story of a woman Ruby Donaldson ,aged 55, who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. At first, because of pride, she does not let anyone in her life know that she has the disease and she tries to continue her life as a hairdresser as if nothing was wrong. She had to write in a journal and use notes to get through her days. As time goes on she finds herself covering up and using excuses so no one knows what is going on with her. She wants to get all her affairs taken care of and she also starts doing research on ways to end her life when she determines that she does not want to end up not knowing who or where she is or forgetting her family. This novel is also about Ruby's daughters Liz, who she is estranged from and Grace, the daughter Ruby is trying to protect. As in any family Ruby and her daughters have issues with each other and the more Ruby tries to protect them from the truth, the more the issues escalate. Ruby also starts having a relationship with an old flame who has a rebellious 12 year old girl who helps escalate the problems with the Donaldson women. Each person tells their story and the reader gets pulled right in and carried along to the surprising end. There are other characters that add to the richness of this story. I think that Lynda Simmons either did a lot of research with Alzheimer's or has first hand knowledge of this debilitating disease as she tells this story with no holds barred and also with compassion not only for Ruby but all the characters in the story. I found myself laughing and crying through the book. I loved it and give it 5 stars. A must for the lover of women's fiction.

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  • Posted January 20, 2011

    Amazing read!! Couldn't put it down.

    This book is absolutely incredible. Bust out the kleenex though, I haven't cried while reading a book in a while.

    Thanks for the great read!!

    Highly highly recommend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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