Sunday, April 26, 2020

The Space Between Lost and Found

Stark-McGinnis, Sandy. The Space Between Lost and Found
April 28th 2020 by Bloomsbury Children's Books
ARC provided by the publisher

Cassie lives with her parents in Dessert Valley, and the family is struggling with the mother's early onset Alzheimer's. They have Mrs. Collins, who comes to stay with the mother sometimes, but it's becoming increasingly difficult. Cassie knows that things will be difficult, and that's just the way it has to be, but she misses her outgoing, fun mother. She also misses her best friend, Bailey, who just doesn't understand what Cassie is going through, even though Cassie lost her own mother. There are other distractions, like a project at school that Cassie ends up working on with Bailey, but the big concern is keeping her mother safe. Cassie feels terrible that her father doesn't want to take her mother out to do things like hike in the mountains or go to the grocery store. She starts to think about the "bucket list" that her mother made, and is determined to take her mother to swim with the dolphins again. She researches, and finds a place in San Diego, which is three hours away, and with the help of Bailey's sister, gets bus tickets and reserves a hotel room. She lies to her father, but he eventually finds out and drives to pick the two up. Things continue to go downhill, and the family is waiting for a place in an assisted living facility to open up. Cassie tries to remember the good things about her mother as she works on a plan for moving forward with her own life.
Strengths: This certainly hit close to home. Both my mother and a friend my age (with slightly older children) are dealing with dementia. It's difficult for everyone, and certainly a parent struggling with this is much different than children having to deal with a grandparent. The depiction of the father's emotions and coping strategies is realistic, and Cassie's difficulties with friends and school are as well. Cassie is certainly resourceful when planning her travel, and luckily nothing bad happened! The flashbacks (on darker paper) make the story even more poignant.
Weaknesses: I wish there were more of a plot concerning Cassie's life and a little more humor, like in Sonnenblick's Falling Over Sideways in order to have this appeal to a wider array of readers.
What I really think: This was a much better fit for middle school readers than Sticky Notes, the only other book I can think of with a parent with Alzheimer's. It was also vaguely reminiscent of Song for a Whale, with the road trip and facts about sea life.

Ms. Yingling

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