by Laurie Lewis
Two emotionally battered young people land on the ramshackle farm of a French WWII survivor with dementia. They believe they’ve come to help Agnes, but life has taught this survivor valuable lessons about love and courage, and she will prove to be the greatest teacher this pair will ever know.
“Such a tender story! Dragons will make you think, teach you a lesson or two, and warm your heart.”
“A marvelous journey into the strength of the human spirit.”
“This is a poignant book about families and secrets, about terrible hurts and healing. It was full of very real characters who had strengths and human weakness. I think this is perhaps what struck me most about the book–it is a story about the human spirit, even when that spirit has been beaten or neglected or is housed in a decaying mind. The book shows that even very good people can make big mistakes, and that the difference between a good and bad person might not be the fact that they make mistakes, but rather, whether they work to fix and heal those mistakes.”
CIR: What inspired this book?
LEWIS: My mother, and her struggle to navigate the world after her diagnosis of dementia, ultimately inspired my decision to change The Dragons of Alsace Farm from a WWII mystery to the family drama it is now. A young disabled couple in search of more independence came to live with her on her old farm, and I watched how they rose above their limitations to lift and serve one another. Although I changed the nature of the challenges facing Noah and Tayte, and made Agnes a composite from interviews with many people dealing with dementia, it was Mom and this young couple who ultimately inspired the final book.
CIR: Who is your favorite character?
LEWIS: Asking me who is my favorite character is like asking a mother to choose her favorite child! I love them all, but I knew Agnes would deeply resonate with readers. She is brave, and terrified, and loving, and complex, and snarky, and real.
CIR: Did you have to do research for this story?
LEWIS: The book required lots of research on small elements, like how to birth a goat, LOL, but the majority of my research was on the characterizations of Agnes, Noah, and Tayte. I spoke with many caregivers, patients, physicians, family members, and two friends/family therapists to make sure these complex characters were accurate and believable. So far, they have been the strength of the book.
CIR: Can you compare this to another book or movie?
LEWIS: When asked to compare my book to other books or movies, I generally say it’s Nicholas Spark’s Dear John mingled with Lisa Genova’s Still Alice.
CIR: What do you most hope readers will get out of reading your story?
LEWIS: I hope the overarching message of hope they take away from Dragons is the power of love–that no matter how far we fall, or what we have lost, or done, or suffered, love gives us the courage and strength to fight our dragons, so always remember love.