Tuesday, January 7, 2014
This book review is the first of two student-authored pieces I will be posting this week. We've heard from Regan before--she attended the NAELA/NALI conference in November and wrote two posts about her experiences there. Regan is a December 2013 graduate of William Mitchell. She also has a certificate in health law compliance from Hamline. Regan will be taking the Minnesota bar in February and is looking for a position in the elder law/health law field. Contact me if you have any leads for her and I will put you in touch!
Barbara Cassidy, Deliberate Accident (BookCrafters 2013) (self-published) (available from Amazon)
Review by Regan Bovee, J.D. William Mitchell College of Law, December 2013
Deliberate Accident tells the story of author Barbara Cassidy’s fight to protect her father, Robert, from physical, financial, and verbal abuse from his second wife, Diane. After Robert’s first wife (Barbara’s mother) dies, Robert quickly begins dating and enters into several relationships with women who take advantage of his generous, trusting personality. Robert eventually meets and marries Diane, a nurse at a local nursing home who, unbeknownst to Robert, has recently married a well-to-do resident. Diane makes a living from seducing male residents and other elderly men, gaining control of their finances, and selling their possessions.
The beginning of Robert’s relationship with Diane coincides with the first signs of his dementia. It is often hard for Barbara to tell if her father’s actions are “her father being her father” or if he is losing cognitive ability. By the time it is clear that Robert has dementia, Diane is so entangled in their lives that Ms. Cassidy, her father, and their family are helpless.
The focus of the book is Diane’s reprehensible treatment of Robert, but the real value is in the very accurate depiction of how Robert’s dementia progresses over the course of ten years. Ms. Cassidy frequently quotes a psychologist who tells her that Robert’s dementia is “as good as it will ever get right now . . . In fact, it will only get worse.” This statement holds true throughout the book and is sure to have a familiar ring to those who have cared for someone with dementia. Although Ms. Cassidy, a long-term care nurse herself, continues to advocate for her father as his dementia becomes increasingly worse, there is little she can do for him.
Although Ms. Cassidy describes the book as a memoir, there are several conversations and descriptions of other’s thoughts and actions of which it would be impossible for her to have knowledge. This makes the story seem a bit less credible but enhances the dramatic quality. Further, the story line is difficult to follow in some areas. Characters are referred to interchangeably by their name or relationship (i.e. Robert or Dad) and sometimes switch mid-page, which disrupts the flow. Some of the sentences are also a bit choppy. Ms. Cassidy’s goal in writing this book, however, was to share her experience dealing with her father’s dementia and his new wife who abuses him physically, emotionally, and financially. She more than succeeds in that goal.
Note: This book is self-published.