Forgetting Foster by Dianne Touchell
Published July 1, 2016 by Allen & Unwin
Source: the publisher
Rating: 5 stars
From the blurb: Foster Sumner is seven years old. He likes toy soldiers, tadpole hunting, going to school and the beach. Best of all, he likes listening to his dad's stories.But then Foster's dad starts forgetting things. No one is too worried at first. Foster and Dad giggle about it. But the forgetting gets worse. And suddenly no one is laughing anymore.A heartbreaking story about what it means to forget and to be forgotten.
This book, this book, THIS BOOK. I read Dianne's debut novel, Creepy and Maud, a few years ago so I knew Dianne was good at writing heartbreaking stories, but I was still unprepared for the emotions this book would put me through.
Seven year old Foster has a wonderful relationship with his parents, particularly his father. His dad loves to tell stories and encourages Foster to do so as well. They have word games in the car, they tell stories together, each adding a new line or taking the story in a different direction. So it comes as a surprise to Foster when his dad starts to forget things and slowly Foster realises it might not be something he can get back.
I think the saddest thing for me was Foster's age and how hard it was for him to comprehend what was happening to his dad. It's such a young age to start losing your father, even if he's still physically present. Part of the issue is that his mum and aunt keep him in the dark, often deliberately not telling him things with the assumption that it's better he doesn't know. This leads Foster to try and work things out alone, often acting out on purpose just to get some attention.
The author perfectly captures the point of view of a seven year old without ever talking down to the reader or making things too simple. It was compelling to watch Foster work things out on his own, to see his thought process and feel all his emotions.
Thinking back to Creepy & Maud, I remember feeling annoyed at the idea of just how many people have kids and don't stop and think about how their behaviour impacts them, and I feel like it's a subject that Dianne writes about well, whether intentionally or not, and she does so without preaching. All I could think about was how this time in Foster's life was going to change the person he was to become. But things aren't always dealt with in the best way, sometimes things are tough. I will say the ending left me feeling really hopeful that Foster and his family would manage to do the best they could.
Forgetting Foster is a beautiful, heartbreaking, and hopeful story about a family dealing with Alzheimer's Disease. It's a book that is perfect for readers of all ages, covering topics from disease, bullying, family secrets, to health care, and love.
Thank you to Allen & Unwin for my review copy. RRP A$19.99.