Many thanks to Fish Out of Water books and Jenny for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour and for letting me review this book.
Published: 20th February 2018
Genre: Young adult
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.
No Sad Songs is a fantastic piece of writing. From the outset this story about the transformation of Gabe from teenager to adult just resonates with those who read it. We all know someone who has been hit by Alzheimer’s whether personally or through a friend and the struggles show within this story capture that so well.
Friendship is a major theme within the story from the start. Gabe and his best friend John have a solid friendship that withstands even the mess that Grandpa makes when he is left alone. Like any friendship there are bumps from girls and even crime, through it all John tries to help Gabe keep it together when it is just him trying to care for Grandpa and while circumstances may force them apart the friendship ends up being something that Gabe can rely on.
The author also doesn’t shy away from showing the realism of Alzheimer’s. Some books you read gloss over how disease affects people, No Sad Songs however shows just how much people change and the lengths that you go to while trying to care for the sufferer. Grandpa hasn’t always been this way and interspersed with how Gabe administers medicine and cleans him up are anecdotes of what Grampa used to be like. And while it made me sad to see the change and how different he is from his former self I really liked the fact that the author didn’t make it easy for Gabe with a quick fix, if anything he made it harder with the introduction of Uncle Nick who is just a dead weight.
The writing is really well done and the personal essays that Gabe writes for English class offset the main storyline nicely giving us the deeper look into what makes Gabe tick. They also show how Gabe has grown over the years. I really enjoyed the feel of this book and the style of writing just flowed.
It was also nice to read a story about a teenager that wasn’t focused on a love story. While there is a touch of romance in the story it isn’t the main focus. This book shows the lengths that people will go to for their family and to keep a promise. It also shows that sometimes you do the wrong things for the right reasons and it will sometimes work.
I really enjoyed reading this book and I have rated it 4 stars.
I would love to know what you think of this if you have read it.
About Frank Morelli: FRANK MORELLI has been a teacher, a coach, a bagel builder, a stock boy, a pretzel salesman, a bus driver, a postal employee, a JC Penney model (see: clerk), an actual clerk (like in the movie of the same name), a camp counselor, a roving sports reporter, and a nuclear physicist (okay, maybe that’s not true). At heart, he’s a writer, and that’s all he’s ever been. His fiction and essays have appeared in more than thirty publications, including The Saturday Evening Post, Cobalt Review, Philadelphia Stories, Jersey Devil Press, and Indiana Voice Journal. His sports-themed column—“Peanuts & Crackerjacks”—appears monthly at Change Seven Magazine.
A Philadelphia native, Frank now lives near Greensboro, NC in a tiny house under the trees with his best friend and muse, their obnoxious alley cats, and two hundred pounds worth of dog. Website: https://frankmorelliwrites.com/