“Everything Must Go” is the story of one family’s experience with dementia and caregiving. (It starts in a risky way for a book; the dog dies.) The story is conversation driven, filled with what people say, what they hear, and what wish they had not seen or heard. Laine Francis relates incidents as an introduction, as if a new neighbor moving in next door, or catching up with a past acquaintance, or perhaps in a therapy session. The narrative goes back and forth in time so readers learn how characters grew into the people they are in the present. Ultimately that past complicates everything; it holds things that were never supposed to be revealed. Sometimes the truth is terrible for people, and so people decide to keep that to themselves.
Laine returns to Brooklyn to care for her mother who needs “help” with the activities of her daily life; to “put things in order.” But that is no easy task; more is needed than just “cleaning out” the assortment of superfluous clothing and unused kitchen appliances. Things are complicated by a past relationship and by the chaos that surrounds the lives of her two sisters, not to mention that of her mother. There is no easy answer for this. However, this might be the chapter in her life when she could shed her identity as the person who gave up her dreams to make other people’s come true. Perhaps the goal is not always to make things simple and painless. Sometimes one must embrace the pain and the mess that it took to get to where you really want to be.
I received a review copy of “Everything Must Go” from Camille Pagán and Lake Union Publishing. “Everything Must Go” is not just a little casual, amusing book, even though the title and the cover might suggest that. It is thoughtful, reflective, and sympathetic. The characters are authentic, realistic, imperfect, and relatable.
“Everything Must Go” is now available in print, as an e-book, and on audio from independent bookstores, online booksellers, retail stores, public libraries and anywhere you get your books.