Format: Paperback, ARC
Links: Goodreads | Amazon UK
Blurb: Following a family tragedy, 18-year-old Gabe LoScuda suddenly finds himself thrust into the role of caregiver for his ailing grandfather. Between the shopping trips and the doctor visits with Grandpa, Gabe and his friend John try to salvage their senior year, meet girls, and make the varsity baseball team. It doesn’t take long for Gabe to realize that going to school and looking after a grandfather with Alzheimer’s is more work than he ever imagined.
And when long-lost Uncle Nick appears on the scene, Gabe soon finds that living with Nick and Grandpa is like babysitting two grown men. Aside from John, the only person who truly understands Gabe is Sofia, a punk-rocking rebel he meets at the veteran’s hospital. When these three unlikely friends are faced with a serious dilemma, will they do what it takes to save Grandpa? If there’s a chance of preserving the final shreds of Grandpa’s dignity, Gabe may have to make the most gut-wrenching decision of his life—and there’s no way out.
Review: I don’t often accept review requests any more. In fact, I never do. I’m just too busy and if you’re a book blogger, you’ll know that getting so many requests can certainly get a little overwhelming. Sigh, so many books, so little time. But when the email for No Sad Songs landed in my inbox, I was instantly intrigued. So, against my own rules, I decided to accept it and was kindly sent a copy to review. So thank you to Fish Out of Water Books for sending this to me! I love YA books – I definitely need to read more of them and this sounded right up my street. It’s about Gabe, a high school student who is a full-time carer for his Grandpa, who has an advanced form of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Gabe’s entire life revolves around his Grandpa and above anything, this book really did make me gain a much higher appreciation of anyone in Gabe’s situation. Anyone who is a carer to someone with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. I’ve not had a solid experience of knowing someone with the disease in it’s severe and advanced stages so I can’t pretend to even understand what that must be like for the families and friends who take care of them. So before we go any further, I take my metaphorical hat off to you.
Back to the book. Despite the important messages within in – I kinda looked at it as a less-whimsical version of a John Green book (and that’s not a bad thing, John Green is one of my favourite authors) – there was a fair bit going on and the story-line definitely didn’t go where I thought it would. Although I didn’t necessarily agree with a lot of Gabe’s decisions throughout the book, they were certainly admirable. But again, that goes back to the fact that Gabe is in this situation that not many teenage kids find themselves in. If I was in the same scenario, would I have acted the same? It’s hard to say.
I have some negatives, the main one being that there’s an awful lot of talk about Baseball in this book and for someone who knows nothing about the sport (nor particularly cares – I’m from England and we don’t really do Baseball over here), I found these parts a real struggle and admittedly did skim over a good few chunks of text which may as well have been written in Chinese for all I knew. Another similar point was when Gabe and his best friend John were playing a video game. I was lost. Speaking of John, he was a wonderful character. I instantly fell in love with John after a fair early chapter where Gabe has to deal with quite a distressing situation with his Grandpa and John doesn’t say anything, just gets on and helps. It was really admirable and I can only hope I’m that kind of person one day.
The plot itself was good; I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s great. If anything, I would have liked to see more of Grandpa in the book and less of Gabe’s obsession with this girl in his school. Although the high school / romance elements of the book compared to the quite serious aspects were a nice contrast. I would have also liked to see more flashbacks of Gabe’s childhood with his Grandpa and his parents. We do see a few of these throughout and they were all really lovely. I’d probably say the story felt a little scattered sometimes. But overall, was exceptionally readable.
A quick, easy to read book absolutely perfect for young adults. It deals with situations that most of them won’t be familiar with and will certainly give readers who haven’t dealt with Alzheimer’s or Dementia before and insight into what it’s like to be a carer – albeit, a bit of a fictional insight. I think this book holds a lot of clever and meaningful messages and was a fun read, despite the difficult elements of the book.