Title: Forgetting Foster
Author: Dianne Touchell
Age group: Young Adult, 12-13+
Forgetting Foster is a truly magnificent book that has the ability to be the most unforgettable combination of beautiful and sad that will leave you laughing at one point and clutching your chest from heartache the next. Dianne Touchell has the most amazing talent when it comes to writing. There are so many prime moments in this book where you can feel what the character is feeling. The situations are so powerful and the strength of the emotion is astonishingly accurate.
Forgetting Foster is a novel that follows a young, seven year old boy, named Foster Sumner who is constantly having his imagination fueled through storytelling and reading, which he does with his father, Malcolm. Foster loves his dad and loves his dads stories, and Malcolm is right at the center of Foster’s world, even when Malcolm starts getting sick. The novel starts with Foster smelling something terrible coming from the kitchen, he investigates to find that a pan of bacon has been left unattended leaving a now dark sludge consumed by black smoke. Foster worries and begins calling out for his father, who he finds in his parents bedroom; Malcolm is folding washing as though nothing is out of the ordinary. Thus begins Malcolm’s fall into Alzheimer’s Disease.
This novel very well centers around Foster and his inability to adjust to all these new changes that are happening in his family. They used to have family days, Sunday’s were dedicated to sleeping in, pancakes and family drives. Storytelling, singing and laughing all used to be what fueled a house of laughs and it’s slowly beginning to fade. Foster starts getting teased at school because his father is “going crazy” and in order to protect himself and these new sad and lonely feelings he’s experiencing, he starts to say bad things about his dad – his hero – so that the laughter and mockery is aimed away from him, but it doesn’t make him feel good.
Soon enough, Foster is feeling very alone, his mother is always telling him “Nothing for you to worry about, Fossie.” and quite frankly he’s getting quite tired of being told not to worry, because he just wants his dad back to normal but he doesn’t understand the severity of the situation that’s slowly unfolding in front of him. It’s a hard journey but Foster starts to think that maybe, if he starts writing down the stories his father used to tell him, maybe it’ll bring his dad back. Things go from bad to worse as his father slowly deteriorates into the unfortunate disease but this book ends on the most beautiful happy note.
Whilst being a superb story, this novel is also very good at acknowledging some of the importance of making yourself aware of the illnesses that are around you. Foster does mock his dad at school but only because he doesn’t understand what’s going on and doesn’t know anything about Alzheimer’s Disease as no one has stopped to explain it to him. Reality hits hard in some of the chapters and helps the audience to associate with a real life problem, and that’s something not just any old book can do.
The following quote is my favourite in terms of awareness towards mental health and for me best describes the Alzheimer’s Disease:
“Mum tried showing Dad photographs of Geraldine, photographs of Dad with Geraldine. Dad enjoyed that and talked affectionately about her. But when confronted by the living beast Dad could not connect the dots. She was no longer his Geraldine.”
Dianne Touchell has done a fabulous job on this novel and I highly recommend it to any Young Adult reader looking for something new to read, it’ll tug on some heart strings but will leave you smiling by the end, if not a little teary.
Overall, I would highly recommend this book, and if you end up reading it, then I hope you enjoy every page as much as I did.
Until next time, keep turning those pages.