Sarah Leavitt Dot Comtangles

Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer’s, My Mother and Me

Cover of Tangles, by Sarah LeavittFreehand Books, Canada, 2010; Jonathan Cape, UK, 2011; Skyhorse, US, 2012; Beltz, Germany, 2013, Steinkis, France, 2014

Awards and recognition

US: Kirkus Starred Review, Vanity Fair and Jewish Daily Forward reviews, Huffington Post slideshow of images from Tangles

UK: interviews and reviews in The Guardian, The Independent, The Irish Independent, The Jewish Chronicle, The Glasgow Herald and more — see the News and Reviews category.

Canada: Tangles was a finalist for the 2010 Writers’ Trust of Canada Non-fiction Prize (first graphic narrative to be a finalist in this category); the 2011 BC Book Prizes, Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize; theBook Illustration category of the 2011 Alberta Book Publishing Awards; and the 2011 Alberta Readers’ Choice Award. Tangles was included in the Globe and Mail’s top 100 books of 2010 and Maisonneuve Magazine’s top 10 for 2010, and winner of the CBC Bookie award for Best Comic or Graphic Novel.

What the critics are saying about Tangles

The fact that Tangles was short-listed for the Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize could be taken to represent a new level of mainstream acceptance for the graphic-lit medium. I’d prefer to take it as given that graphic lit has arrived and say instead that Tangles is simply a fine and touching book. As the rate of Alzheimer’s continues to increase as the population ages, Tangles joins Jeffrey Moore’s novel The Memory Artists and Sarah Polley’s film Away from Her at the head of a list of illuminating and much-needed artistic responses. – Ian McGillis, National Post More…

Samuel Johnson once wrote that “the true art of memory is the art of attention,” and those words have been well served by Tangles. Under the watchful gaze of Sarah Leavitt… the life of her mother is now bound and contained. – Bernice Eisenstein, Globe and Mail More…

Sarah writes and draws with perspicacity, humour and even anger… Her experience pulsates with realism and life, even while her mother is slowly disappearing… By creating this book, she has re-created her mother, a woman anyone would be privileged to have known. At least we get to know her through her daughter’s wrenchingly honest memoir.  — Candace Fertile, Vancouver Sun More…

Download the Reading GuideAdvance praise for Tangles

“An extraordinarily moving and vivid account, in text and cartoon-style pictures, of the life and death of an Alzheimer’s patient.”—John Bayley, author of Elegy for Iris

“Sarah Leavitt uses the medium of comics to tell her story with more economy and power than either words or pictures could muster by themselves. She brings a good eye for the telling detail—the small observations that reveal larger truths—to her memoir of a family in crisis. Tangles is the work of a perceptive, creative, and honest storyteller.”—Brian Fies, author of Mom’s Cancer

“Brimming with humility and insight, Leavitt proves herself a skilled and unflinching memoirist. Her spare, evocative illustrations and the tender restraint of her prose will leave you breathless, heartbroken and profoundly grateful.”—Nancy Lee, author of Dead Girls

From the publisher…

What do you do when your outspoken, passionate and quick-witted mother starts fading into a forgetful, fearful woman? In this powerful graphic memoir, Sarah Leavitt reveals how Alzheimer’s disease transformed her mother Midge—and her family—forever.

In spare black and white drawings and clear, candid prose, Sarah shares her family’s journey through a harrowing range of emotions—shock, denial, hope, anger, frustration—all the while learning to cope, and managing to find moments of happiness. Midge, a Harvard-educated intellectual, struggles to comprehend the simplest words; Sarah’s father Rob slowly adapts to his new role as full-time caretaker, but still finds time for word-play and poetry with his wife; Sarah and her sister Hannah argue, laugh, and grieve together as they join forces to help Midge get to sleep, rage about family friends who have disappeared, or collapse in tears at the end of a heartbreaking day.

Tangles confronts the complexity of Alzheimer’s disease, and ultimately opens a knot of moments, memories and dreams to reveal a bond between a mother and a daughter that will never come apart.

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