Welcome to my blog. I often think I was born with a book in my hand. I have always enjoyed reading, but more importantly, talking about books. This blog is partially about reviews, but is really a forum to talk about what I'm reading, and express all of the thoughts and feelings that there simply isn't room for in a professional review. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on your favourite books as you follow my reading journey.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Back to Blackbrick: A Moving Middle Grade Debut

Twelve-year-old Cosmo has always enjoyed a close relationship with his grandfather and thinks he's the smartest person he knows. But then his grandfather's memory starts to fail and he exhibits early signs of Alzheimer's.  In a moment of clarity, Cosmo's grandfather gives him a key, and pleads with him to go to the south gates of Blackbrick Abbey where the answers to everything will become clear. And so he does. In the dead of night, he steals away to the Abbey. When he unlocks the rusty gates, he is whisked away to the past and meets his sixteen-year-old Grandfather, the beautiful Maggie, and the horrible Corpamore family, and subsequently discovers some important truths about his grandfather, his family, and most importantly, himself.

I've been in a blogging rut. A long one, and one longer than I expected. It's not that I haven't been reading- I've read a ton since I last posted, and liked a great deal of them- but I just haven't felt like saying much about any of them. And then this book came along. This quiet little book that I might never have gotten to if my Simon & Schuster rep hadn't raved about it in our last meeting and insisted I read. Having a rare moment where I had no "required" reading lined up, I decided to squeeze it in, and I'm so glad I did.

From the first chapter I was completely hooked, largely in part to Cosmo's voice. Cosmo is genuine and vulnerable, but not self-pitying. The last couple of years haven't been easy. His younger brother Brian died two years before after falling out of a window, his mother took of to Australia to work, leaving him to live with his grandparents, and with his grandfather's condition, he's facing another potential loss and upheaval.

One of the things I love about Cosmo is the fierceness with which he fights to protect his grandfather, and to cure him. He's old enough and smart enough to research memory loss and try any and every possible trick to help him, but he's still a child. A frightened and grieving child whom none of the adults have considered in the wake of their own problems.

I also really enjoyed the time travel aspect of the story, and how cleverly the author connects past present and future, suggesting that life is more circular than we imagine.

This could have been a standard time travel story. It certainly wouldn't have been the first story about a kid who travels back in time to learn about a family member, but this is so much more. It's about love, family bonds, grief, and about the ways that we fight to hold onto those we love even when we know we're losing them.