A girl with long red hair is at the seaside, with her mother and grandfather. It's a day on the beach just like any other, yet something makes it different: while they play and have fun building castles and forts, her grandfather starts behaving strangely. The child watches him, curious. This is happening quite often lately and it's sometimes fun. Other times, as in this case, she gets angry – what if her grandfather forgets about her?
Forgetting about oneself, the people around us, places, how to do the simplest things – unlearn life.
Through lively and cheerful pastel-hued illustrations, Clare Helen Welsh and Ashling Lindsay tackle the theme of forgetfulness with great sensitivity. La marea is an evocative illustrated book about Alzheimer's and, more in general, about senile dementia, and develops along several levels of interpretation.
The first concerns the need to help younger readers better understand a disease that challenges the reliability of figures that, to them, are often synonymous with “safe harbours”. By comparing it to the tide, readers can be reassured that memory is a phenomenon in motion, that is appears and disappears just like the sea, and like water (a metaphor of love), it always comes back, relentlessly. This takes us to a second level of interpretation, concerning universal themes such as the sense of bewilderment (which takes over the sufferers and those around them), the fear of no longer be recognised by those we love and of being forgotten. And, finally, the third level: the resolution, the ability to accept the changes, even the sudden ones, brought on by Alzheimer's, and try to embrace them, enjoying every precious moment together.
Indeed, it's no coincidence that in this work the colours progressively fade towards warmer hues as we get closer to dusk and the end of the summer, disappearing into the comforting image of an ice-cream and a sunset. The young protagonist has learned to adapt to her grandfather's rhythms and enjoy those brief, precious moments of happiness, including those made of silence and peacefulness.
La marea (The tide)
by Clare Helen Welsh and Ashling Lindsay