18-year-old Gabe LoScuda was a normal high school student with two happy parents and an ailing grandfather. When his parents die in a car crash, he is put in charge of taking care of his ailing grandfather. However, his grandfather isn’t suffering from something like bad arthritis. His grandfather suffers from Alzheimer’s and is losing more memories by the day. Sometimes he seems to be acting normally, but then he starts shouting random things from his memories of the war. Gabe wants to have a normal high school senior year, but he doesn’t want his grandfather to lose whatever shreds of dignity he has left by putting him into a nursing home. Together with his unreliable Uncle Nick, his best friend John, and his new friend Sofia, he is determined to take care of his grandfather and make the best of the situation.
Very few books are written that discuss Alzheimer’s with teens and children, but it is a topic that needs to be discussed. More and more people are being diagnosed with the disease by the day, and it is now the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Some teens even have to take care of their parents that suffer from the disease in their 40s to early 50s. Books need to be written so that the disease is understood by these teens, and so these teens don’t feel isolated, as if they have some dirty secret.
Gabe was a very relatable main character. He doesn’t have all the keys to navigating high school, and when his life is turned upside down, he doesn’t know what to do at all. Throughout the book we see him grow from a scared teen who just lost his parents to a man determined to help the last immediate member of his family who has been there for him throughout his childhood. In fact, the character development of both Sophia and John was also very well-written. I think that Morelli really understands the personal growth of teens in their senior year of high school, as they transition from kids to (at least partially) adults.
The pacing of the story is good. It is split up into chapters and 9 essays that he writes for his English class that reflect what is going on in his life by talking about his past. The story ended up feeling short, but it was a fairly long read at around 200 long physical pages. There were no story inconsistencies or any ends that didn’t feel tied up by the end of the story.
There’s really nothing bad to say about this book. It was an inspirational, relatable, unique, and addicting read. I would definitely read it again, and I hope that more people take the time to do so.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a new contemporary YA novel that discusses modern issues such as Alzheimer’s.
I received an advanced copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.
Overall Rating: 5/5