Back to Blackbrick Paperback – 16 Jan 2014
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A tear-jerker with lessons in how to live life to the full. (Nicolette Jones THE SUNDAY TIMES)
one of Ireland's most interesting children's writers (IRISH INDEPENDENT)
...a clever, engaging story of a teenager who finds an unexpected way to deal with the gradual disintegration of his grandfather's memories and personality. (Josh Lacey THE GUARDIAN)
Back to Blackbrick tackles one of the great social and medical issues of our time, but does so eloquently, sensitively and with knowing humour. We are the sum of our memories, and Sarah Moore Fitzgerald explores this idea in a unique and compelling way. As well as being a thoroughly enjoyable read, the book could help young people to understand how Alzheimer's takes its toll as the disease becomes increasingly common. (Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive ALZHEIMER'S RESEARCH UK)
Orion has high expectations for this debut author, and deservedly so. Original and compelling, this is a beautifully written novel about love, loss, history and memory for readers of 10+. Wonderful storytelling. (THE BOOKSELLER)
A thoughtful novel about memory, the past and about how our actions have consequences (Hughes and Hughes IRISH PARENT)
Back to Blackbrick deals with the serious and complex emotions facing a young teenager as he comes to terms with his grandfather's dementia. Sarah Moore Fitzgerald explores the complex emotions surrounding Alzheimer's disease, but in the context of a warm and humorous story exploring memory, family, separation and loss. A highly entertaining read, this will also introduce young people to one of the greatest social, medical and economic challenges of our time. (Dr Selina Wray, Dementia Research Scientist ALZHEIMER'S RESEARCH UK)
The characters are well-drawn in this absorbing and thought-provoking timeslip novel. Sarah Moore Fitzgerald tells a moving and original story of love and loss with both humour and understanding. (BOOKTRUST)
A beautifully pitched book about seeing a grandparent deteriorate due to Alzheimer's. A pitch perfect book that had me hooked from the first page and refused to let go. (THE BOOKBAG)
The reader is drawn into a strange world of great friendships, loyalty and tragedy. Back to Blackbrick is a very original and unusual read. (INIS MAGAZINE)
Lost memories, lost times, lost lives - heartbreakingly sad and yet uplifting too, a stunning debut by an Irish writer whose work is reminiscent of Annabel Pitcher and Siobhan Dowd - about a boy and his grandfather, who suffers from Alzheimer's.See all Product description
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Alzheimer's. More specifically, what it's like when a close family member can no remember everything.
Cosmo is a boy whose grandfather is in that state. The two have always been close, but now his granddad can't remember things as well as he used to. Not least Cosmo's brother Brian. Who died in an accident. Cosmo lives with his grandparents whilst his mother works in Australia.
Cosmo narrates the story in the first person. The book runs for two hundred and twenty eight pages and is divided into twenty three short chapters plus an epilogue.
From the start, he describes what it's like to try and deal with his granddad in his new state. And how the rest of his family are dealing also. This is supremely readable thanks to some good and clear prose, and it really draws you in.
Things do take a different turn a short way into the book when Cosmo is given a key by his granddad, and told to go to an oold building. He does, and when there he suddenly finds himself in the past. Where he meets his granddad as a young stable boy.
And yet one key detail of the past isn't as it should be. Can Cosmo make everything work out how it should? And is this a chance to save his brother?....
What would be four star material at first suddenly becomes a five star book when the narrative takes this shift. Because there are so many superb elements to the story and the writing that you will be desperate to know what happens next. There are two great scenes of characters letting their feelings out. Excellent historical depiction of life decades back. And some superb plotting also. You won't predict how things work out.
In addition to this it has a great many themes for the reader to think about. About love and memory and how the past can influence the present and shape you as a person.
Ideal reading age would probably be twelve and up. There's one very mild adult scene but it's nothing explicit.
In addition to being an excellent depiction of coping with Alzheimer's in the family this is also an excellently plotted story and a very engrossing read. Do be sure to read the author's note at the end as well.
Although this is being marketed as a children's novel it is a great read and one that's highly recommended to anyone who loves a good book. Whether you're a young adult or not.
However the key to the problem is a physical key given to him by his granddad, a key which will open the gates of Blackbrick Abbey and allow Cosmo to enter the past, meeting Kevin as a young stable boy and hopefully capturing elusive memories. Can he change the future or will his meddling cause more problems in the present?
This is a story about memory, bereavement, love and loss. We cling onto our memories when sometimes we should move on, treasuring the good times but not remaining fixed in the past neglecting the living. The author handles the issue of dementia with great sensitivity, demystifying what can be a source of fear, anxiety and grief. It's not a gloomy story but rather a hymn to life and love - the scenes from the past show Kevin as a confident, entrepreneurial youth. I know I would love to have known what my parents and grandparents were like as children!
Back to Blackbrick is a beautifully written, engaging story which has a message for both young and old - to look beyond appearances and see the person inside and the memories which have moulded them.
Nothing here is maudlin. The relationship between the old man and boy is told with affection and totally rings true, the lad determined his granddad be not put away. Suddenly everything takes an unexpected turn. In a moment of lucidity comes a secret assignment, Cosmo given a key and urged to visit derelict Blackbrick Abbey. There revelations await, including a final twist many readers may never predict.
Sarah Moore Fitzgerald writes with understanding and heart, the novel dedicated to her beloved father who had Alzheimer's. The result is a gem of a book about a mind adrift and the need to accept how things are - a glorious, most satisfying read.
Be assured any tears shed will be happy ones.