This review is spoiler-free!
This book was received from the author for review. All opinions are my own.
No Sad Songs by Frank Morelli
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary
Release Date: February 20th 2018 by Fish Out of Water Books
Format: Kindle, 230 pages
Find it here: Goodreads
Following a family tragedy, 18-year-old Gabe LoScuda suddenly finds himself thrust into the role of caregiver for his ailing grandfather. Between the shopping trips and the doctor visits with Grandpa, Gabe and his friend John try to salvage their senior year, meet girls, and make the varsity baseball team. It doesn’t take long for Gabe to realize that going to school and looking after a grandfather with Alzheimer’s is more work than he ever imagined. And when long-lost Uncle Nick appears on the scene, Gabe soon finds that living with Nick and Grandpa is like babysitting two grown men. Aside from John, the only person who truly understands Gabe is Sofia, a punk-rocking rebel he meets at the veteran’s hospital. When these three unlikely friends are faced with a serious dilemma, will they do what it takes to save Grandpa? If there’s a chance of preserving the final shreds of Grandpa’s dignity, Gabe may have to make the most gut-wrenching decision of his life—and there’s no way out.
Let’s get right to the point: I really liked this book! I’m not really the biggest fan of contemporary and tend to only reach for it when I feel like reading it, but this was far from the usual lovey/romance/girl-meets-boy kind of contemporary that I tend to lean away from that I was way more invested in it than I usually would be.
I want to first start off this review by touching on my absolute favorite part of the whole book (because I want to), and that is the writing style. Morelli’s writing style is fantastic. It’s entertaining and descriptive and captures your attention without overwhelming you or boring the hell out of you, usually by the way he throws in commentary via Gabe, our main character we see out of, for comic relief or visual representation or whatnot. I really loved it. I want to read more of his work for this reason alone.
(He doesn’t have any other books yet, according to Goodreads, though! I’ll be keeping an eye out.)
Now, the story itself is a little jarring, I would think, for those not aware of how dementia and Alzheimer’s can affect those diagnosed with it, along with the families that often have to care for them. I do have a little bit of familiarity with this subject — my grandmother had dementia just before she passed, but had already chosen to live in a nursing home long before it had set it. She was taken care of there. Gabe’s grandfather, however, only has Gabe, and then his son Nick when Nick shows up to help.
Yeah, I can only imagine the struggle, and a lot of that imagination is fueled by the extremely realistic representation Morelli gives us in No Sad Songs. At some points, it was almost too real for me! Without Gabe to break some of the scenes with humor or a snarky comment (or John for that matter, who really should be given all of the best friend awards because he was such a good guy about so many things in the book), the whole endeavor probably would have been a struggle for me to get through.
Honestly, between the story we’re given in the form of Gabe, Nick, and co. and the absolutely wonderful writing style it’s fed to us in, this really is a very good book, despite being a genre I’m not usually quick to pick up, and I highly recommend giving it a go regardless of what you know about Alzheimer’s. It’s a very good window to take a peek into, and you may just learn something.
Thanks for reading!