Singing with Momma Lou

By Kirkus Reviews

Tamika decides to try to restore her grandmother’s memory in this realistic story about a family dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease. At first, Tamika resents having to visit Momma Lou in the nursing home every Sunday. One night after a particularly difficult visit, Tamika’s father pulls out the family photo album. Cherished snapshots from Momma Lou’s full life marching for civil-rights causes, getting married in traditional dress, and taking care of a young Tamika remind Tamika of “the days of secrets and dreams, when Momma Lou was her best friend in the world,” and she realizes she owes it to Momma Lou to make the visits more meaningful. Tamika’s efforts to reconnect Momma Lou with her past by bringing photos and mementos to the nursing home sometimes work and sometimes don’t, reflecting the sad reality of the progression of Alzheimer’s. A major triumph occurs when Momma Lou is shown a picture of herself in jail, and begins to sing “We Shall Overcome,” just as she did on that long-ago day; but it is her last moment of lucidity. Eventually, Momma Lou slips away, but not before her memories have taken root in Tamika’s heart. Soft-focus acrylic illustrations convey the dedication and warmth of the family; in particular, Tamika’s facial expressions aptly express the progression of frustration, love, excitement, and nostalgia she feels as she comes to terms with Momma Lou’s illness. This worthy source for any family dealing with the anguish of Alzheimer’s provides assurance to children that their experience isn’t unique as well as a blueprint for a proactive approach even young children can undertake.