Monday, September 8, 2008

BOOK: Exit Lines by Joan Barfoot

Exit Lines by Joan Barfoot

2nd Canadian Reading Challenge

What will life be like when you are old(er)? This is the story of four very different old people, because even though we say old, everyone is very different. The stereotype of the little old lady is not possible because unless we are all the same now, there is no way we all turn into the same little old lady. We recently buried a 98 year old grand aunt who could only be described as 'quite a lady'. I can only imagine what she must have been like as a young woman; her sharp tongue did not develop in her eighties when I first met her. In Exit Lines, Idyll Inn retirement home opens up, and four very different people meet and, against all logic, become friends. Then they undertake a risky mission.

Sylvia while independent now, was well off, and has an estranged daughter to whom she was never very maternal. She has always done what she wants, and knows how to talk to people to get her way or at the very least, intimidate them.

George was a shoe salesman, married with a daughter who has moved away. His recent stroke has taken away his independence, and his wife, who has Alzheimer's, is in another facility. Because his speech is very limited, he can't talk about another resident with whom he shares a past.

Greta moved with Dolph from Germany after the war. They had three loving daughters before a tragic accident leaves Greta widowed. She manages to raise her family and work and learn English somewhat. Although she sounds like a fighter, she's pretty bland.

Ruth was a child protection worker, and daughter of two Jews who survived the war. She found love late, and then is widowed as well.

There is a light, humorous tone to the book, but some serious issues of old age, including diseases, loneliness, family responsibilities, and death are dealt with. Each of the characters is nicely done with distinct traits and back story. The characters have some connections in their past and then in the present have to deal with a euthanasia dilemma. I found this a very interesting aspect of the book and liked how Barfoot showed the different sides and opinions. As we each get closer to old age, these questions are more likely to come up.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Some of my friends have this next in their bookclub - one friend likes it, the other is reluctant to read it. It's interesting how something like this brings up our feelings about age and the future. Good review :-)