Montpelier Tomorrow

Montpelier Tomorrow

by Marylee MacDonald

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Mid-life mom, Colleen Gallagher would do anything to protect her children from harm. When her daughter's husband falls ill with ALS, Colleen rolls up her sleeves and
moves in, juggling the multiple roles of grandma, cook, and caregiver, only to discover that even her superhuman efforts can't fix what's wrong.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940150422452
Publisher: All Things That Matter Press
Publication date: 08/20/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 318
File size: 395 KB

About the Author

Marylee MacDonald's fiction has won the Barry Hannah Prize, the ALR Fiction Award, the Ron Rash Award, the Matt Clark Prize, and two Illinois Arts Council Fellowships. Her work has appeared in the American Literary Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Blue Moon Literary & Art Review, Briar Cliff Review, Broad River Review, Folio, North Atlantic Review, Raven Chronicles, Reunion, Ruminate, StoryQuarterly, Yalobusha Review, and others. She lives in Tempe, AZ.

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Montpelier Tomorrow 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Told from the perspective of a mother who has struggled as her husband and the father of her children died when two of her children were very young and one was on the way. She raised the three children on her own and struggled the entire time to balance providing for the home and being the mother figure at the same time. While it is from her point of view, the focus of the story is on her oldest child, her daughter who is dealt a blow as her husband is diagnosed with ALS as she is pregnant with their second child, so her mother comes to the rescue.
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
A family dealing with the devastating diagnosis of ALS is the subject of Marylee MacDonald's intense novel Montpelier Tomorrow. Colleen Gallagher is a suburban Chicago kindergarten teacher and mother of three adult children. She raised her young children on her own when her husband died in a car accident years ago, and spent the last few years caring for her Alzheimer's-afflicted mother who recently died. When her daughter's husband is diagnosed with a fast-moving form of ALS, Lou Gerhig's disease, Colleen rushes to her daughter's family in Washington DC to help care for Sandy, (who just gave birth to baby boy Ben) three-year-old Josh and son-in-law Tony. Sandy and Colleen's relationship is not the perfect mother-daughter one. I found Sandy's need for order and control and the rude way she expresses that need to her mother unsettling. Sandy constantly berates her mother and even throws Tony's parents out of her home for a minor offense. Tony deteriorates quickly and Colleen comes to stay with the family and help during her summer vacation. Sandy has to work as a lawyer to support her family now that Tony is housebound, so Colleen not only cares for the children, but she reluctantly becomes Tony's caregiver as well. The characters in Montpelier Tomorrow are different from other books of this type in that they are not the let's-everyone-pitch-in-and-make-it-better people. Sandy is resentful of her husband's illness, Tony is self-centered and self-pitying, and Colleen just wants to return to her own life back in Chicago. Tony's parents' idea of helping is to let Colleen do the actual, difficult physical care of their son while they pop in from time to time. MacDonald provides a realistic look at the tough day-to-day living as a caregiver to an adult with ALS. She pulls no punches at the frustrations, the anger and the punishing physical toll it takes on Colleen, who steps up when no one else will. Colleen and Sandy's relationship is a tough one to read about, but eventually we discover what is behind Sandy's resentment. It reinforces that parents don't always know what their children are thinking as they grow up, and the same is true of children about their parents. We tend to ascribe motivations to each other because we don't really understand each other. There is a sad twist at the end of the story that comes on suddenly and changes everything. I admit to not seeing this one coming and it felt like a punch to the gut. Montpelier Tomorrow is a tough read, and MacDonald does a terrific job putting you in the shoes of this family in crisis. You make not like all of them but you will feel their pain. Colleen is a wonderfully complex, unforgettable character, and I for one would love to see more of her story.
obiebookworm More than 1 year ago
Fifty-three-year old Colleen Gallagher has gone through her fair share of personal loss. Not only widowed at a young age, she was also left to care for her young family while pregnant with her third child. Now a few years after caring for and then finally losing her ailing mother, Colleen plans to run interference for her daughter Sandy and family since Sandy is close to expecting her second child. But on the day of her arrival, Colleen learns the horrible truth that her son-in-law Tony has been diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and is told that he has only one year to live. Although Colleen knows that tough times are ahead for Sandy and her family, she is unaware just how tough they will be. Based on her own familial experiences, award winning author Marylee MacDonald hits upon the unexpected within the cycle of life. A story of hope amid tragedy, MacDonald's first person narrative features Colleen, a middle-aged woman who has other plans in mind for this next phase in her life. Yet in the midst of creating her principal character, MacDonald throws in an interesting cast (many of who have dysfunctional qualities of one form or other)—a mix of family, friends, neighbors, medical people, and strangers—that together turns her well-scripted plot into a more realistic extension of Seinfeld. While painting the story's environs with the same emotional intensity that reflects the dismal circumstances in Sandy's family, MacDonald manages to remold what could be considered a dystopian theme into dark comedy. Clearly, Tony's body is deteriorating rapidly. Yet the sarcastic comments that come out of this dying man keep Colleen and others constantly hopping, which creates a slew of comedic scenes. MacDonald does not stop there, though. The interactions between characters are most often edgy since there is constant tension in the air as everyone is trying to help Tony and the family out. And as tension continues to rise, Colleen finds herself in the crossroads between the present and the past. MacDonald does an excellent job of zeroing in on a the unresolved issues of Colleen's traumatic past, folding in various situations that force her to take a deeper look at herself. One situation, in particular, is Colleen's encounter with seventeen-year-old Esmeralda, who randomly shows up at Colleen's house looking for housing. Colleen begins to grow closer to Esmeralda—something that she feels that she never truly accomplished with her own daughter Sandy. MacDonald's use of this foiled character is superb since Esmeralda is a key element in Colleen's introspection. Overall, MacDonald's presentation of familial situations in the midst of crisis is very realistic since family member's true colors come out, and MacDonald's portrayal of family dynamics is nothing less than superb. MacDonald folds all the aforementioned elements together and then deftly incorporates them into alternating scenes between Colleen's present and past thoughts. Employing a thought-provoking ending, Montpelier Tomorrow is an exceptional read. A mix of sadness and humor, it is indeed a story that should be read many times. Originally posted on US Review of Books, Anita Lock -- Book Reviewer
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Montpelier Tomorrow is a most honest account of a mother's experience caring for her young adult family who is living the inevitable moment to moment adversities associated with degenerative, terminal illness.  Having cared for many families who have experienced these difficulties, I am confident that Marylee MacDonald clearly captures the essence of the limitations, confusion, exhaustion, helplessness, dedication, generosity, sacrifice and immense love experienced by all who are touched by devastating illness.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This gripping novel catches you on the first page and never lets you go. Colleen Gallagher, summoned to DC to help out when her daughter delivers her second child, arrives on the day when her son-in-law is diagnosed with ALS. As the young couple reels from this news, Colleen becomes the steady hub in the center of the emotional maelstrom. With piercing accuracy, this novel details the devastation ALS wrecks on the afflicted individual and those who love him. Each character comes alive, from baby Ben to the terrified in-laws, from paid caregivers to friends in denial. Moment to moment, I felt as if the action was happening around me, to me. While the topic may sound grim, the novel is not. MacDonald’s honesty and insight, and the fast pace she maintains throughout make Montpelier Tomorrow an absorbing read, and an important one.   
MichelleRMcCormick More than 1 year ago
What a heartbreaking story!!! Colleen has traveled to DC to help her daughter Sandy as she prepares for the arrival of her second son Upon arriving, she is told that her son in law, Tony, has recently been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis(ALS). Colleen had heard of the disease but when Tony informs her of his prognosis and the fact that the doctors have given him only a year to live, she is in disbelief. Having just cared and since buried her own mother, and also having been a young widow herself, she knew the struggles and hardships that awaited her daughter's family. Colleen leaves her life as a kindergarden teacher in Chicago so she can help her daughter and be the caregiver for her son in law. Sandy has to continue working fulltime as lawyer right after giving birth, care for her two sons, and still try and cope with the looming fact that her soulmate is dying quickly and terribly. Tony has become completely dependent on everyone because of the disease and also must come to terms with leaving his wife and two youngs sons too soon. Marylee MacDonald has done an amazing job with the characters in this book as well as bringing to light what a terrible disease ALS can be on a family. This story just tugs at your heartstrings and really does a great job of showing the strain any terminal disease can have on relationships and the family dynamic. I also came away with a great admiration and respect for caregivers and hospice nurses because wow what a demanding and tiring job!!! I could not believe the ending and was not prepared for the sobbing that occured.(Have tissues) Grab this book if you or someone you know is dealing with a terminal illness because I think they will be able to relate with what is going on. I would recommend this book to everyone because it is raw, heart wrenching story and it gives the reader a glimpse of the disease that was made so popular bye the Ice Bucket Challenge. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
MLMK_Review More than 1 year ago
The character development, scene setting and plot flow were all lacking in my opinion. I believe the author set out to write a story of the experience with ALS, which is indicated by her very detailed descriptions of several characters' experiences with the terrible disease, but there were plot holes and complications that did not seem necessary. MacDonald is clearly experienced with ALS, but I feel that her experiences may have been better portrayed in fictional short-story format instead of a novel. I appreciate the conveyance of information as part of a recreational read, but it's important to do BOTH the fictional novel aspect AND the informational sharing very well, or both will be lost. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ebomb143 More than 1 year ago
A heartbreaking story about a mother who essentially becomes a caregiver for her son-in-law. Colleen has a normal life as a school teacher until she visits her demanding daughter, Sandy, and learns that her son-in-law has ALS. Colleen takes as much time off as possible to help her daughter take care of her dying husband. During this entire book I felt badly for Colleen, nothing she ever did was good enough for her daughter. By the end book Sandy just wished everything could to return to normal because she was so miserable with what her life had become because of his illness. This book is full of sadness and numerous emotions, but also shows the selflessness of people. Colleen and her son-in-law bonded because of his illness and I know that he was beyond grateful that she was there for him. This book should be read by anyone that has dealt is or dealing with a long term illness. I also have a newfound appreciation for caregivers and imagine it's one of the hardest jobs out there. There is a huge twist at the end of the book so make sure you have tissues handy. I received a free copy of this book for an honest review
ReadersFavorite2 More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite Montpelier Tomorrow by Marylee MacDonald is a compelling story that explores the emotional aspects of human relationships. The story is narrated from the point of view of Colleen Gallagher who arrives to help her daughter, Sandy, in Washington, DC, with her second son's delivery. Her son-in-law, Tony, is diagnosed with ALS just about when the second child is going to be born. ALS changes people and Colleen realizes the difficulties of handling a situation like that. The story pulls you into the daily lives of this crumbling family which is going through a major upheaval. The story is a compassionate account of the life of a dying man and the problematic relationship between a mother and a daughter. The plot has many layers to it and the story is intense, honest and heart wrenching. The story and the characters are real and readers can relate to them easily, making the book a poignant read. There are a lot of nuances and complexities in the characters, and the emotions they undergo will keep readers glued to the book. It also throws light on a family coping with someone who has a degenerative disease and who is dying. There is a lot of clarity in the author's writing when she speaks about Tony's illness, Sandy's struggles as a career woman, wife and mother, and Colleen's time as a caretaker and mother in the family. It is an amazing story of a family going through hard times, with each one trying to keep things going under difficult circumstances.
ReadersFavorite1 More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers' Favorite Montpelier Tomorrow portrays the depths of maternal love. Marylee MacDonald captures the essence of motherhood in the character of Colleen. Colleen is a widow, a mother and a kindergarten teacher. After the loss of her husband, Colleen became the cornerstone of her family. This becomes all too obvious when her son-in-law, Tony, is diagnosed with ALS. The disease progresses quickly, causing a tumultuous family crisis. Everyone looks to Colleen to keep them going. Putting her life on hold, Colleen moves in to care for Tony and her grandsons, while her daughter, Sandy, works. Exhausted and burdened, Colleen deals with the never-ending list of daily tasks. Searching for tranquil moments, memories of the past capture her thoughts, defending the approach of the grim reaper. Yet the disease takes its toll on them all, the “air seemed freighted with death.” All Colleen wanted was to help, to be there for her daughter, but Sandy rejected her. None the less, the “vigilance of motherhood never turned off,” even when death tested them all.  Marylee MacDonald paints a portrait of family in her novel, Montpelier Tomorrow. It challenges its reader with the question: How do you go on with life, when death draws near? MacDonald uses profound word illustrations to set the scene and the tone of her narrative. Written in first person, the protagonist, Colleen, tells the story from her perspective. Death is the antagonist; its haunting presence lurks across the pages. Each character is written with specificity and each deals with death in a unique manner, revealing their personalities. The character of Colleen was portrayed genuinely. Her open loving heart, her generosity, her fears and her burdens were felt by the reader. At times, flashbacks were used, intensifying the plot and postponing the inevitable. As the novel moves to its turning point,  an unforeseen crisis occurs - spiraling the characters into the falling action and thus proving life isn’t what it seems. Montpelier Tomorrow portrays real issues of life; it exposes the multi-layers of human conflict and the heroism of motherhood.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Patricia Day for Readers' Favorite Montpelier Tomorrow by Marylee MacDonald is a well-written and comprehensive account of the family struggles that ensue when one member is diagnosed with ALS. You will meet Sandy and Tony, a young couple and parents to little Josh and baby Ben. Their world is shattered when Tony is diagnosed with ALS. How to cope is the number one question. Sandy’s mother, Colleen, bravely steps in to help however she can. She does not realize the toll it will take on her as the disease not only ravages Tony, but threatens the well-being and the sanity of everyone around him too; hers included. However, she resists the temptation to give up. She is there for the long haul, no matter what.  Her love for Sandy and for Tony – a beloved son-in-law - will not allow her to wallow in self-pity. With the aid of friends, support workers and extended family, they are occasionally relieved of the all-consuming exhaustion that the demands Tony's deterioration brings, as well as the growing tension of worry and stress. One close friend even gives up his home to give them a much-needed break from their distressing everyday burdens. The story continues with clarity and understanding until a completely unexpected event throws all of their beleaguered routine into disarray. How they face this and how Tony’s condition is eased with drugs and therapy makes for thought-provoking reading. It took me along a road I hope I never have to travel. Not necessarily an easy read, but one that will cause you to thank your lucky stars it is not your life. The author must have done a great deal of research into this topic in order to write such an informative book. A good read - even if I did feel exhausted as I reached the last page.  Well done.
DMDenton More than 1 year ago
At its most obvious, 'Montpelier Tomorrow' is about a family's struggle with one of their own being diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's disease) and the demanding caregiving and improvised coping that ensues. Even with all the publicity this incurable progressive disorder has recently received, this book's ability to reach out might have been limited in its appeal to those who had specific experience of ALS or some other chronic neurological condition such as MS. However, it has so much more to offer than a discourse on the ravages of ALS. Written from the heart with intelligence and honesty, a touch of the everyday on almost every page, wit tempering the harshness of the subject, vulnerability and frustration given as much attention as the call to strength and sacrifice; this very readable book speaks to the reality and challenges of sustaining relationships with family and friends despite--to borrow a concept from Steinbeck's 'The Grapes of Wrath'--life's jerks. Through lithe storytelling Ms. MacDonald's narrative tackles the feelings and behavior that rise out of the sense of powerlessness illness can evoke, as well as conflicts that may never have a chance for complete resolution. It addresses the material, emotional and even conscionable resources that affect each one's ability to cope with adversity--how some grit their teeth and do things that have to be done and others avoid the nitty-gritty of the situation. No judging going on, though. By her own admission (in an interview with the Literary Fiction Book Review), Ms. MacDonald says she writes to be a "storyteller not a preacher" and throughout the book she remains true to that objective. She handles all aspects of the story without pretension or sentimentality and offers a compellingly sincere personal perspective. The book's narrator, Colleen, mother-in-law of the ALS sufferer, is independent, forthright, loyal and forgiving. For anyone who has ever had to relinquish their own routine or goals as a caregiver, she is relieving to identify with because she doesn't play the martyr or mask her grief, desire and irritation, or hide her human frailties from others and herself. However, she is honorable and strives to love unconditionally and pragmatically, to give herself over to caring for and understanding her daughter, sons, son-in-law, grandchildren, students and even strangers such as a young unwed mother, while realizing she has to honor her own needs and forge ahead with fulfilling them in whatever way is still viable. The ending offers the unexpected in terms of what is about to be lost: the end of life looming for us all at every moment, but, also, the possibilities for how it will go on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Broke my heart. Though at times this book was I'm my opinion long winded, it was still very good. Reading this behind the scenes of a family going through ALS was eye-opening. Most stories only show bits and pieces of everyone impacted but this gave an equal part of how sad this disease really is. The mother in law and son in law banter is great. Helped at times when you had to take a deep breath to move on through the sadness. The end of the book was not what I expected at all and it took me awhile to decompress to go to sleep for the night. For all the families dealing with this terrible disease, I am so sorry. **I received a free book for an honest review **
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful story!  This book leaves you thinking about the characters long after you've finished the last page.  You are taken on a journey that includes happiness, sadness, deep thought and a sense of contentment.  Highly recommend!
GWPoipu More than 1 year ago
While videos of celebrities pouring ice water on their heads has raised awareness of ALS in a mostly abstract way, Marylee MacDonald’s poignant novel does what good fiction does best. It takes the abstract and makes it specific. Through vivid prose filled with tense moments as well as gentle humor, she takes the reader on an honest, unflinching journey with Colleen Gallagher, as she bears the burden of caregiver for her ailing son-in-law. But even after Tony is diagnosed with a rapidly advancing form of ALS, life’s other stresses don’t disappear, they are magnified. Backs go out, babies are born, and home repairs need to be made, including a much needed repair of her relationship with daughter Sandy. How Colleen keeps the family from drowning as Tony gradually sinks will keep you turning the pages. And by the time you reach the surprising conclusion, you’ll have an awareness of ALS more chilling than a bucket of ice and an appreciation of the complexities of a mother’s love, which will linger in your heart.
KathrynCody More than 1 year ago
Montpeiller Tomorrow by Marylee MacDonald What is life truly like for a family facing ALS and how does that family continue to find love? Time robs us of chances for reconciliation. Time makes us liars. I wanted to save my daughter, and, even now, I don’t know what made me think I could keep her from going through what I had gone through…”  And so begins our journey with Colleen, a mid-life Mom, who faces some of the most difficult challenges of trying to help her daughter’s family, faced with her husband’s ALS, with two small children. What can we do to help those we care about – children, parents, grandchildren, when the train is racing on the track to debilitating illness and certain death? Colleen and Sandy and their family face it love, fortitude, and an unwillingness to let go of the people we love. Each must face their inner demons as they struggle to provide caring for the husband, who was smart, funny, outgoing, loving, before ALS strikes at only 34. Sandy is pregnant with her second child when Tony is diagnosed, and Colleen goes to help. This moving story touches all who have dealt with calamity with parents, children or close relatives. This family is real as they seek to find fun and balance, and to provide a loving environment for the children. But is also a story of love and hope as each finds ways to love in the most difficult of situations. I strongly recommend this book for all us, especially the sandwich generation who have cared or caring for children and aging parents, and those who have dealt with difficult diagnoses of loved ones, and sought to find a way to continue to love and support, no matter what.