I was very lucky to go along to the Big Bookend event last night with Emma Healey. Emma’s debut novel, Elizabeth is Missing is a mystery story with a difference. Maud, the main character is 81 years old and has dementia. She keeps remembering that her friend Elizabeth is missing, in fact she has pockets full of notes to herself that tell her just that. How will she convince anybody that there is a problem, when somedays she can’t even remember her own address?
The event last night, run in conjunction with Arts and Minds was excellent. Emma is a young writer and this is her first novel, but she spoke with confidence about her writing and the book. There was a good audience and at the end of the event there was a lively question and answer session. This raised some excellent points about the importance of books like this; those that normalise mental health problems so you read about the person, not the illness.
The book is out today and I am happy to predict that it will be a summer smasher. I was fortunate to read a preview copy and I loved it. My grandmother suffered from dementia and this book really brought back mine and my families experiences with her, both good and bad.
Elizabeth is Missing is one of the books that Arts and Minds are reading this year for their Sharing Stories project. All six books feature mental health, learning diability or autism. All the books are available through Leeds Libraries and Arts and Minds would love you to read them and comment on their blog.
This event was one of many Big Bookend festival events. There are lots more happening this weekend, check their website for details. www.bigbookend.co.uk