Katie never knew her grandmother. Her mother, Caroline, hates to speak of her past and thoughts of her mother, Mary, only enrage her. But when Mary's husband Jack dies unexpectedly, the hospital calls Caroline to come pick up Mary, who is suffering from dementia and cannot be left alone. Caroline is livid. Her mother never took care of her, so why should she be expected to drop everything to look after Mary. Katie, on the other hand, connects with Mary instantly - she is a stranger, but she seems so familiar. And it's not her fault that she gets confused and can't remember things. When Katie starts trying to help Mary recall her memories, she begins to understand some of the rift that has always existed between her mother and grandmother. But Katie could never guess the secrets that lie deep within her family history or the way that Mary's stories will help Katie to understand a secret of her own.
Why It's Worth Reading:
I doubt that anyone would classify this book as a mystery, but I found it so suspenseful! Downham does an incredible job of layering the events of the present with Mary's stories from the past. Mary's dementia and Caroline's dislike of her history with Mary add to the mysterious nature of the plot. Katie cannot help but feel like she is missing details, either because Mary cannot remember them or because her mother refuses to discuss her past. The character development in this novel was so rich, making it easy for the reader to recognize how Mary's free-wheeling spirit led to Caroline's buttoned-up watchfulness, and then on to Katie's desire for some freedom of her own. I also really loved how Mary's dementia was handled. The devastation of the disease was apparent, but Katie was still able to connect with her, even having only known her in the throes of her disorder. This book had so much going for it - it's a family story, it's a coming-of-age story, it's a mental health novel, and it's a 2017 Stonewall Honor book. It may just be the perfect choice for an open-minded reader who is not sure what to read next. Give it a shot!
Author: Jenny Downham
Awards/Accolades: 2017 Stonewall Honor Book, 2017 ALA Best Ficton for Young Adults list, & at least 5 starred reviews!
Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Source: LIBRES Book Review group
Do We Own a Copy?: Multiple copies are now in our library.