Pocket, Jun 2003, 10.00, 214 pp.
Though he knows he is dying that does not disturb Harry Whitney. However, Alzheimer's bothers him because he realizes how much the disease has changed him from Grandpa Harry to an old cranky geezer complaining about everything. Harry has several grandchildren, but his favorite is Emily, who visits him every week.
When Harry dies, his daughter-in-law Laura, finds three homemade books filled with his poems and stories. Together with her daughter Emily, who mourns the most over the loss of her best friend, they read Harry's poetry and stories, realizing that each contain a coded password that opens a related computer file. Inside the files are special notes to Harry's beloved Emily to help her in life. Other family members soon read Emily's treasure that reminds them how remarkable Harry had been as a person, father, husband, and grandfather before Alzheimer's destroyed his mind and body.
This inspirational family drama will leave the audience crying for joy and out of sadness. Harry in life and death is quite a protagonist as his wisdom passes down to Emily and others. When the tale focuses on Harry directly or indirectly (the sandwich generation struggling on what is the right thing to do with their father) or on Emily's child-like but mature understanding of him, the book is incredible. When the tale centers on the breakup of marriages amidst Harry's children, it adds depth yet too much angst that weighs down the reader a bit. Still LETTERS FOR EMILY is a powerful and insightful look at the individual members of a family.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner