Do you imagine being 12 years old and having to watch as your mom slips further and further away, her mind being ravaged by young-onset Alzheimer’s disease? Neither could I, but for Cassie, the main character in Sandy Stark-McGinnis‘ The Space Between Lost and Found, this becomes her reality as she becomes the parent as her mom’s memories fade along with her ability to do things.

Cassie makes her mom breakfast (all mom’s favourites); ensures sure she doesn’t wander away and get lost; and tries hard to fulfill her bucket list of swimming with dolphins. This one becomes more tricky as her dad always worries what if: what if his wife wanders away and they can’t find her. What if she says something wrong and people are mean? Cassie, on the other hand, seems to understand the importance of ensuring her mom remains happy in her remaining years.

It’s a terrible situation, but not – unfortunately – an uncommon one.

In her author’s note, McGinnis talks about the memories she has of her dad helping her as a child with her schoolwork and watching the World Series as a young adult. Her dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease when he was 68, eventually not recognizing his wife or children.

“I got to spend my childhood with my dad before his memories slipped away, but some kids aren’t that lucky. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to be 10 or 11 and watch a parent lose his or her memory. In The Space Between Lost and Found, 12-year-old Cassie Rodriques struggles” to deal with her mom after she is diagnosed with (young)-onset Alzheimer’s disease. “Cassie is desperate to try to connect her mom to memories of their lives together before the disease, and makes a choice to fulfill one of her mom’s dreams before it’s too late.”

Cassie was a great character, who mourns the loss of her mom while she is still there, while trying her best to honour one of the most important people in her life. I would imagine Cassie’s reaction to school and the things she used to love before her mom’s diagnosis is pretty accurate – it’s hard to be a kid when you are busy being an adult.

Cassie’s best friend – and her family – and her dad are also great characters. There was one part where you are hoping beyond hope that Cassie gets what she wants, but it doesn’t happen. While it would have been so lovely, and I really wished it for her, it would also have been unrealistic, and I am glad McGinnis didn’t do it.

The Space Between Lost and Found is a great way to bring awareness of this terrible disease into the hands of kids, many of whom are finding themselves in the same position as Cassie – young caregivers who have to deal with way more things than seems fair.

The Space Between Lost and Found is $22.99 and is available from Raincoast Books.

A copy of this book was provided by Raincoast Books
for an honest review. The opinions are my own.

Note: I usually keep this life and my professional life separate, but do feel the need to mention my day job is in communications for the Alzheimer Society of York Region where I have shared many stories like Cassie’s (albeit the caregivers are not as young as Cassie).