Jake is frightened; his lovely, feisty Gran, who is supposed to be looking after him in the absence of his parents, appears to be losing her mind. He dare not tell his Father who is on a training course for that all-important job; his Mother is in hospital and must not be worried. Then Verity turns up – but who is she? Why does no one else seem to register her presence? Jake is at his wits end.
There are no real surprises in this novel which conforms to the tradition of the ‘disaster’ plot, in which, adults having been conveniently removed, the young protagonist must draw on personal inner strength. Here, however, the disaster is not the cataclysm of an earthquake or crash, rather it is much nearer to home and possibly nearer the experience of young readers. Gran appears to have suffered a stroke and dementia has developed. Jake, however, does not realise this and is faced with coping with an increasingly erratic elderly lady while trying to present a normal face to the world. The author presents a convincing scenario and is particularly good at conveying the anger and frustration carers of patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia can feel. However, the inclusion of Verity – Gran’s twin who died aged fourteen – and Kenny from next door, are unnecessary distractions for the adult reader, though the young audience at whom this novel is aimed, is unlikely to be troubled. KS2 [also see Ruth Eastham’s The Memory Cage].