Here are two excerpts from emails I received the other day from readers. They capture the essence of why I wrote Take The Lead, so that people who have or have had a loved one with a degenerative disease such as Parkinson's can relate to Gabriel's story in the book. Thank you Joe and Nancy!
"Hi Johnny: I recently purchased and read Take the Lead. What a great story. My father suffered from Parkinson’s. I could identify with Gabriel’s attempts to manage his life and help with his father. Parkinson’s is a terrible disease. Every time I visited my dad I could see the progression of Parkinson. It robs its victims of their dignity. Gabriel’s romantic adventures provided a nice contrast to his dad’s serious health problem.
Previously I had purchased and read your other three books. All of them were really excellent reads. It was a nice surprise to find this new book.
And this is from Nancy Mazonson at the Jewish Family and Children's Services center in Waltham where dance classes for people with Parinkson's as well as support groups are available. (The dance class here inspired my book.)
"The joy and inspiration of Parkinson's dance is palpable on Wednesdays at JF&CS when families join dance instructor Art Sullivan for a weekly dance class. Stiffened bodies loosen, feet begin to tap, and smiles erupt as the music fills the room. The inspiration of the Parkinson's dance class, we now know, has been felt in other ways. Back in November 2008, Johnny Diaz, a Boston Globe staff writer, visited our dance class and wrote a poignant article which appeared on the Globe's front page...Offering support and inspiration to all family members whose lives are affected by Parkinson's disease is what we do in real life, and now in the world of fiction as well!"