Breaking Out of Bedlam, a new book written by Leslie Larson, and featured in The New York Times, is getting mention amongst some aging professionals, because of the novel’s setting, an assisted living facility. Cora Sledge, the 82-year-old main character, is placed in the Palisades, an assisted living facility, by her children. Horrified by this, Cora sets out to find her revenge through a tell-all journal she writes that reveals past secrets. The product description reads:
In entries that are profane, profound, and gossipy, she chronicles her childhood in rural Missouri, her shotgun wedding, and the terrible event that changed the course of her life. Intermingled with her reminiscences is an account of the day-to-day dramas at The Palisadesâ€”her budding romance with a suave new resident, feuds with her tablemates, her rollicking camaraderie with the man who oversees her health care, and the sinister cloud of suspicion that descends as a series of petty crimes sets everyone on edge. The story builds to a powerful climax as Coraâ€™s revelations about her past mesh with the unraveling intrigue in the present.
I have not read the book yet, but early reviews promise the novel to be a humorous take on a strong, stubborn woman’s final years within a long-term care setting. If I’m to enjoy Breaking Out of Bedlam, I’ll need to temporarily set aside my immediate disdain for the book’s title, where an assisted living facility is referred to as “bedlam”, an indication that other, potentially harmful language toward elders and the aging industry is likely throughout the novel. Perhaps through this suspension of my disdain over the harmful language I’ll manage to find the humor the author intends.
Have you read the book? What did you think?