The Red Address Book
By: Sofia Lundberg
Doris is a 96-year-old woman that lives independently in Stockholm, Sweden. Her life is quiet and for the most part she keeps to herself. One of her greatest joys is her weekly Skype call to her grandniece Jenny who lives in America. They have a special bond and it is her only living relative. Since childhood, Doris has kept an address book that lists everyone she has met. Many now are crossed out and Dead is written next to the name. She decides to start writing about some of the people in her address book so Jenny will know more about her life. Doris had some interesting adventures and Jenny will learn more about her own past through some of these stories.
Becky: This is a debut novel that doesn’t feel like a first time author. The story is based on the author’s own Aunt Doris. After her passing her address book was found and it inspired this story. I actually keep a physical address book but every few years I buy a new one and some names are deleted as friendships change, addresses are not updated or sometimes through a passing. This book has me pondering the value of if I had kept the names from childhood until now. Did you have the same type of emotion or reflection while reading this story?
Pam: I also keep an address book and update it periodically. I had similar thoughts as I read this book. Doris embraced each memory, whether painful or joyful. This certainly made me think about how we handle challenges with people in our lives. Although it is often preferable to try to forget painful experiences, they help form our characters and values. Doris seemed to truly understand this and hoped to pass all of her memories on to her niece. Doris spent much time alone, with her only living relative very far away. This also was a point of reflection for me. Did you, as well?
Becky: It did have me thinking about how sad it is for seniors that have no family to assist them as they become less able to care for themselves. My family is really quite small and I am blessed to have my mother close by but it was a reminder for me that the time I spend with her is special and limited. I fell in love with this character right away and the story came to life for me. I thought that the transition between the past and present was smooth and the pace of the story was perfect. Did you enjoy one timeframe over the other?
Pam: That is a difficult question! The timeframe of her youth was essential to the story that led to her current time and helped explain her circumstances. I felt more connected to her as an elderly woman because I wanted to jump into the pages and visit with her and help her advocate for her wishes! Her grandniece, Jenny, and her have a lovely relationship and Skype each week. This was an interesting twist to the story and very relevant to our time of technology. Jenny wants to help, but is very far away and taking care of her young family. Did you connect with Jenny in this story?
Becky: I loved that the author included Skype in the story. Please introduce the seniors in your life to Facebook, Messenger or other communication avenues. It has helped my mother connect to so many people that she wouldn’t normally have contact with and keeps her mind active. I certainly did connect with Jenny. My children are not as young but I understand how hard it is to balance caring for your children and a parent. It is a constant juggle. I highly recommend this book but it’s time to close this chapter and move on to the next novel. Pam, what are we reading next?
Pam: We are going to explore the lives of three women that are interwoven with the history of the Lusitania, as we read The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White.