Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a starred review) 3
Genre: realistic fiction
What did you like about the book? I liked this book because it tackles a difficult subject not usually covered in books for this age-range: a father experiencing early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Ten-year-old Foster is very close to his dad, and when dad first begins to forget things, everyone in the family is able to laugh it off. But as his dad’s forgetfulness progresses, it takes a toll on everyone in the family. Foster and his dad have a loving relationship and the early chapters are charming, but as the book progresses the very nature of the subject matter makes it relentlessly sad. In addition, some of the secondary characters show a remarkable lack of empathy for Foster and his mother. It is clear that some of them, such as Foster’s aunt, are dealing with their own pain and sadness, but it feels almost unrealistic that some of them would be so callous. As his father’s illness progresses, Foster becomes angry and acts out, while his mother struggles to cope. Eventually, the presence of social workers and respite care workers provides some relief to the family, and the ending is realistic but at least a bit hopeful.
Anything you didn’t like about it? Although I admire the author for tackling the subject matter, I wish this book had not been so relentlessly grim, particularly considering the age range of its readers. I also wish the adults had provided more professional help and support for Foster, and had done it sooner. Finally, the cover of the book, with its pastel colors and smiling boy, does not prepare readers for the seriousness of the story within.
To whom would you recommend this book? Read Alikes? I would recommend this book, with some reservations, to those who like powerful stories about families coping with difficulties. Similar titles I would recommend wholeheartedly are Nest by Esther Ehrlich and Things That Surprise You by Jennifer Maschari.
Who should buy this book? Middle schools and public libraries may want to consider purchasing this book.
Where would you shelve it ? Middle-grade fiction
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Renée Wheeler, Leominster Public Library, Leominster, MA
Date of review: March 23, 2018