Book Review: “No Way Out of This” (an Alzheimer’s Memoir)

by | June 25, 2024 | Involving Others, Resources

Review of “No Way Out of This,” an Alzheimer’s memoir by Sue Fagalde Lick.

Not every Alzheimer’s memoir is written by a professional writer. That’s what makes “No Way Out of This” different. Sue Fagalde Lick has published 16 books, including nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. She also has written numerous articles and blog posts.

Lick is a writer, but she is also a person who lovingly cared for a spouse living with Alzheimer’s.

The Alzheimer’s journey is filled with challenges. It can be incredibly tough on caregivers and families. We know. That’s why we started Songs & Smiles.

Writing about your experience can be healing. Sharing your story also can help others. That’s why we publish caregiver stories, and that’s why we’re glad so many people have written memoirs about their experience. We’re grateful for AlzAuthors and other organizations that shine light on helpful books. Sharing our stories, we guide each other through the journey.

An Alzheimer’s Memoir Written by a Writer

“No Way Out of This” reads like a novel. The characters come alive. The relationships are (sometimes painfully) real. The emotions are honest and raw.

Lick is sharing a deeply personal story. She is looking back on her relationship with Fred, from the hopeful days when they met and fell in love, through the painful days of caregiving, confusion, and loss.

We know from the beginning that Fred is dying. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s. This is a story of the journey. It’s a story of how the disease affects Fred, but it is even more a story of how it affects Sue.

This book started, Lick tells us in the book’s Acknowledgement section, as “more than a thousand pages of tearful journal entries.” After all, she is a writer, so she wrote during her journey.

“Thank God for making me a writer, so I had a place to put everything I experienced in our nine-year Alzheimer’s journey,” Lick writes. “I don’t know how I would have survived otherwise.”

Of course, Lick did survive the journey. Writing 13 years after losing her husband, the details recorded in those journal entries help bring this story vividly to life. And, in the end, it is a story not only of loss, but of survival.

Dramatic Moments

This is an Alzheimer’s memoir filled with drama and surprises. We’re thrown right into the drama with Lick’s very first words: “I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t.”

Those words frame the rest of the story. We are carried along on a journey for which neither Fred nor Sue were prepared. As such, this book may comfort caregivers who feel like they don’t have all the answers.

In fact, Lick powerfully relates how much she didn’t know. While reading this, I found myself wanting to warn her. “Oh, no. Don’t do that!” Readers who are not dog lovers may want to shout at her: “Just get rid of the dogs!”

Of course, as Alzheimer’s caregivers know, the journey is not characterized by complete knowledge, unfailing wisdom, and perfect decisions. When you’re caring for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, it can be hard to even think straight. Lick’s Alzheimer’s memoir powerfully describes the common feelings of confusion and helplessness.

Feeling Isolated

“No Way Out of This” is the story of a marriage. The preface drops us into a late-in-life crisis. Then, in the first of 50 fast-moving chapters, Lick re-starts the narrative, shifting back to their first date.

The memory of that opening crisis adds layers of emotion to the love story that follows. We feel the pain of racing toward a painful ending, and we feel the powerlessness to stop it. Dementia caregivers know those feelings all too well.

Lick’s narrative captures another common feeling shared by caregivers, that of increasing isolation. Unfortunately, this Alzheimer’s memoir is not filled with involved family members and encouraging friends. Sue is often left to figure things out on her own, and she feels the pressure of each decision.

Alzheimer’s destroys connections. It starts by destroying connections between a person and their own memories. Unfortunately, the disease also destroys connections between people. Families drift apart. Friends stop visiting. That’s why our mission is keeping families connected during the Alzheimer’s.

We hope readers of Lick’s book will be inspired to reach out and support friends facing the challenges of the Alzheimer’s journey. We need each other.

Making Connections

As Lick navigates the sorrow-filled journey, she finds valuable connections, lifelines during her struggle. First, she holds on to the deep love she has for Fred and the deep love Fred has for her (even after he is able to express it). Second, she clings to her faith, even in the face of unanswerable questions. Third, she finds connection through music.

We know music matters. Music has a special power to connect us with memories and with each other. In “No Way Out of This,” Lick describes the power of music to provide peace and connection. Late in the book, she relates a beautiful story of singing Christmas songs together.

“I sang every lively Christmas song I could think of,” Lick writes. “I didn’t know all the words, but it didn’t matter. Fred and I sang together and connected with harmony like we never had before.”

That connection continues throughout Fred’s life. During what would be their final visit together, he still “tried to sing along with the music on the radio.” It’s a meaningful detail, one of many insightful observations Lick shares.

“Music remained the shining thread that held us together in spite of Alzheimer’s disease,” Lick writes. “When in doubt, we sang.”

That’s one of the many gems you’ll find in “No Way Out of This.” We think many caregivers will relate to Sue Fagalde Lick’s expertly crafted Alzheimer’s memoir.

Plus, this is a book caregivers should recommend to their friends and family members. The challenges of the journey are often difficult to explain. Lick’s book can help outsiders better understand the struggles of a primary caregiver.




No Way Out of This” is available on Amazon. (Note: As an Amazon Associate, Songs & Smiles earns from qualifying purchases.)



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Author Bio: Eric and his wife, Sheryl, founded Songs & Smiles to support families during the Alzheimer's journey. He loves singing and smiling and helping people living with dementia connect with beautiful memories.

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