The Space Between Lost and Found

Bloomsbury. Apr. 2020. 272p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781547601233.
Gr 4-7–Amidst flashbacks to happier times, 12-year-old Cassie and her father do their best to cope with her mother’s early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The disease is rapidly progressing—her mom might remember a pop song or how much she loves dolphins, but not what she likes to eat or even Cassie’s name. Meanwhile, Cassie struggles at school with the art show, and with maintaining a good relationship with her ex-best friend Bailey. Of the multiple conflicts, the most dominant might be Cassie’s desire to take her mother to swim with dolphins at an aquatic park against her father’s wishes. The call for this last adventure develops slowly, about one third of the way through the book. This lack of immediate, solvable conflict may be too sluggish to appeal to most children. Older readers may appreciate the unanswerable difficulties. Bailey’s mother’s death, which happened when Bailey was a toddler, sets up an intriguing comparison between grieving a mother’s cognitive changes and a mother who is gone both in body and spirit, not that such a comparison can be objective given human resilience. However, Cassie’s classroom dynamics feel much more like a fifth grade classroom, and her interactions with friends regarding art and soccer seem juvenile. The metaphors examining Cassie’s feelings and artistic endeavors generally add a lilting, poetic feel to the story. With Cassie’s intense feelings and the surrealistic behaviors of her mother, the book flows dreamily from flashbacks to lost memories, ending with love and affirmation.
VERDICT A lovely but not particularly gripping examination of a girl grappling with her mother’s early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

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