All the Dancing Birds by Auburn McCanta

All the Dancing Birds


Lillie Claire Glidden is unraveling. She knows she’s in trouble when she finds her wallet and keys deep in the refrigerator, smelling of lettuce and forgetfulness. And not even her favorite California red wine can dull the pain of the dreaded diagnosis: Alzheimer’s.

As language starts to fail her and words disappear, Lillie Claire is determined to find a way to pass on the lessons she learned as a child on a Southern porch. Surrounded by family and caregivers, she fights to hold on to the details of her life, and to recognize the woman in the mirror for as long as possible.

Told from Lillie Claire’s perspective, All the Dancing Birds offers beautiful and terrifying insight into the secret mind of those touched—and ultimately changed—by the mystery of Alzheimer’s disease.


While I did enjoy All the Dancing Birds, I felt like it wasn't as compelling as it could have been. It felt like it was really light on the story. Like there could have been more story. It was good, but not as great as other similar books I have read.

The story is told from Lillie Claire's point of view. It starts off on the day she realizes there is something not quite right with her mind. She forgets things, sometimes cannot think of words, or make her mouth say what she wants to say. It is quite scary and she tries to hide it as long as she can.

Her children eventually notice and her son takes her to the doctors. Her son is great through everything, trying to help her out as best he can and really being there for her. Her daughter on the other hand acts like a spoiled little brat for a good part of the book. She acts like her mom has some kind of control over this and is just being this way to annoy her. Her mom gets confused at the airport on the way to Hawaii with her daughter and ends up in a questioning room. They miss their flight and the daughter is just incredibly angry with her mom for that. How could she do that to her? It was just...she holds onto that for a long time and it is just like do you not realize that Alzheimer's is not something she can really control? I think if she could she would. I was glad when the daughter finally started being nice to her mom again, but I never liked the daughter. She was always a little too self absorbed for me.

It is really kind of scary reading how Lillie Claire progresses. My main issue however is that it is hard to tell how much time has passed. How quickly has this disease progressed? How quickly did it get to the point that she needs someone with her all the time? I never really knew if it was one day or one year between chapters. There also seemed to be a lot of time that is just skipped over. I felt like if it would have shown the progression more gradually, showed more of the daily workings of Lillie Claire, it would have been a more powerful book. Because so much time seemed to have elapsed between the chapters I didn't really get as engaged as I could have. I did almost cry at the end of the book though just because it is really sad. It makes me think of the people I have lost and it is just hard to read.

The one part of the book I didn't really like were the letter to her kids. I really just skimmed them. I am not sure why exactly I didn't like them, but they kind of bored me. I didn't really care so much about them, but I could see where her children would love to read them once she was gone.

Overall a good book, but I just felt if it would have been deeper, more detailed in the progression of the disease, I would have enjoyed it more.

Rating: 3.5/5

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