Written Works

Swimming Solo

A Daughter’s Memoir of Her Parents, His Parents, and Alzheimer’s Disease

A new family caregiving story about Alzheimer’s disease that makes you laugh and cry at the same time.

For an excerpt, click here.

Filled with insight, wisdom, love, and keen-eyed observation, Susan Rava’s Swimming Solo tells the story of a 14-year journey with Alzheimer’s disease that claimed both her parents and her husband’s. From the first suspicion that her father-in-law, Paul, was facing this ultimate challenge to the death of her mother, Rava shares the journey she and her husband embarked on one beautiful July afternoon when her father-in-law began to swim solo across Lake Michigan.

You’ll find information about:

  • Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Family relationships
  • Caregiver roles and stresses
  • Decision-making
  • Role of professionals such as social workers, doctors, nursing home personnel
  • Managing caregiving and other activities
  • Discussion questions
  • Handy reference and resource list

Some Ways To Use Swimming Solo:

  • Family or caregiver workshops or meetings. Therapists, church and community groups like the Alzheimer’s Association, and care facilities can use the Discussion Guide with caregivers and their families. Sections about family decision-making, placement, and caregiver stress, for example, easily serve as discussion starting points.
  • Academic institutions. The author has conducted classes at schools of Social Work, for instance, using sections of the book.
  • Writing workshops. Writing workshops with a focus on memoir writing or creative nonfiction will find a variety of approaches in Swimming Solo. The author has used excerpts as prompts for memoir writing groups.

Many readers find Swimming Solo moving and useful. Please let Susan Rava know how you use her book on our forum.

Other writing:

A la recherche de Proust

A revealing research visit to Paris.
New York Times Book Review, 1981

Indiana or the Ideal: Return to the Real World

A wry, whimsical account of a teacher trying to read a French novel as students interrupt.
Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 1994.

Marguerite Duras: Women’s Language in Men’s Cities

A study of the efforts of Duras’s female characters to “create a linguistic voice.”
Women Writers and the City, 1984.

Proust in a Humanities Course: A Place for the Madeleine

Ways to teach sections of Proust’s Combray in general humanities classes.
Approaches to Teaching Proust’s Fiction and Criticism, 2003.

Teaching Fuchsia Hair

Reflections on teaching a French class with a student whose hair color changes frequently during a semester.

Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 1998.

When Borges Came to Washington

Encounters with Borges during a visit to Washington University.

Washington University Magazine, 1982.

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