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Back to Blackbrick – Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

“My granddad was pretty much the cleverest person I eve met so it was strange in the end to see the way people treated him – as if he was a complete moron. We were waiting for a train one day, not bothering anyone, when this boy said to me, 

‘Hey. Hey you. What’s wrong with the old man?’ 

In fairness, my granddad did happen to be in the middle of quite a long conversation with a lamp post. But still, it didn’t give the boy the right to be nosy.” 

Cosmo’s grandfather is forgetting everything. Who Cosmo is, where Brian went and even his own life story. Cosmo is determined to help in anyway he can. But when his Grandfather gives him a key and tells him to go to Blackbrick Abbey Cosmo is confused as to how this will help. As a last resort Cosmo gets a taxi using his uncles money, and makes his way to an Abbey he’s never heard of. There he finds himself thrust into a different time and place, one which involves his Grandfather, but has never been mentioned before. Can anything Cosmo do whilst he’s here help his Grandfather and will Cosmo be able to find his way back home before its too late? 

***

This is a heart breaking tale of family and true love and the awful effect Alzheimers can have on a person witnessing it, especially a young person who doesn’t fully understand it.

Back to Blackbrick is a magical realism novel aimed at the younger YA audience which explores Alzheimers through the eyes of a boy called Cosmo. Cosmo’s not had much luck with any of his family recently and his Grandfather was the one who was there for him through all the ups and downs and now it seems his Grandfather is providing the downs. Cosmo’s life is about to be torn apart when he is given a key that could help restore his Grandfather’s memories. Cosmo finds himself in a world which belongs to his grandfather at 16 years old and finds out a lot, including his grandfather’s past and about how to be a decent person.

Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed Sarah Moore Fitzgerald’s most recent book The Apple Tart of Hope. I thought this was a little twee in places and saw an awful lot of the reveals coming early on in the book. I did enjoy the brutal honesty of how the situation played out though and I found it heartwarming to know that Cosmo’s time at Blackbrick had some effect on the lives of his Grandparents.

As stated above this book is perfect for a younger YA audience, or a more advanced MG audience. I think advanced YA readers may get a little bored of the writing which is in places a little too slow for my liking. The narration by Cosmo gave off a storytelling vibe, particularly towards the end of his time at Blackbrick and it started making me think of the way the classics are told. I think the time period in which Cosmo went back to seemed a little too dated too and I kept thinking it was much further back in the past than it actually was. I know that there would have been places like that even back in the 40’s in England but it was an extreme version of what times would have been like.

There was a lot I loved about this book and I know I am being fairly negative here so I should balance that negativity out! I loved the characterisation of those in Blackbrick, Maggie and Mrs Kelly especially were fantastic characters and Cosmo himself grew up an awful lot during his time there. I found Lord Corporamore to be a horrible person who’s eeriness and sharpness was present on every page he appeared on, which is always a good sign with a character like that.

Back to Blackbrick was published in February 2013 by Orion Children’s books. My copy was purchased from my favourite indie bookstore, Storyteller’s Inc.
 
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