Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Graduation of Jake Moon, by Barbara Park, 2002

Skelly, Jake’s grandfather, raised him, along with his mother, even signing up to be his first grade classroom mom. By the time Jake’s in middle school, Skelly has Alzheimer’s disease; by the time Jake graduates from middle school, his grandfather’s dementia has turned his entire family upside-down. Funny and thoughtful, the text is a worthwhile read, even if a few plot weaknesses disrupt the flow. Jake is a likeably imperfect, often immature character, which makes his growth through the text more meaningful. The text stops short of resolving some of the questions it raises about the impact of dementia on families – and by doing so may seem to sentimentalize and minimize those concerns. Still, recommended.

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