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.
No Sad SongsFeatured
They’re so many things to love about, ‘No Sad Songs’. The thing I love most is that the book is set in the 1990’s. This is a time period I haven’t seen a lot of in YA fiction ( or really fiction in general). The nineties are such a nostalgic time period. It is the last decade were our lives were not totally run by cell phones and computers. The simple things in the life of a teenager was very evident in this story. Gabe’s main worries are eating pizza and attracting girls.
The most important theme in, ‘No Sad Songs,’ is caring for someone with dementia. This novel really highlights the divesting situation or a child or grandchild caring for a parent or grandparent with this disease. The dementia sufferers often don’t know who they are or where they are anymore. For example, Gabe’s grandfather constantly relives his time fighting in WWII. Game’s flashbacks also really highlight Gabe’s pain as he remembers the wonderful times with his grandfather. I have read other books centering on dementia (‘Still Alice’) but these novels did not highlight the struggles of caregivers as ‘No Sad Songs’ did.
I really enjoyed the characters and their unique personalities. Gabe and his best friend John’s dynamic is amazing. My favorite character has to be John’s mother Lilly. I loved how fierce and intimidating she was to keep John and Gabe on the straight and narrow. Lilly really provided for some much-needed comedy relief in the story.
I did find the scene in the courtroom later in the book to be a little farfetched. It seemed to workout a little too convenient. I really did love the story though and was happy with the ending so I can overlook such a minor thing.
‘No Sad Songs’ is just an amazing read. I would definitely say this is something that would appeal to someone who is a caregiver. It also is something everyone one should read to help spread the message of elder care in our communities.
The main character of this novel, Gabe LoScuda, finds himself with the difficult task of taking care of his Grandfather who has Alzheimer's, after his parents die in a car accident. Trying to keep the promise he made to his Dad, Gabe swears that no matter how difficult things might get, he will never abandon his grandfather to a facility where he would have to carry his last days alone.
First of all, I cannot get over the fact that Gabe is only 18 and already has such a huge responsibility on his shoulders. His grandfather is a war veteran, and while his mind is not as it used to be, his body still remembers his warring days, making it extremely difficult for Gabe to keep up with him. I felt for him, for every punch and tantrum he took on behalf of his grandfather. I admired his willingness to help him and to keep what little of the family he had left together, including the long lost uncle who showed up at his parent's funeral.
However, Gabe is still a young person with too much on his plate, and some of his decisions lead him to more trouble for the sake of keeping his grandfather close. I understand the sentiment, but when you can't control everything, it's okay to reach out for help. At least when it comes to mental health!
Luckily, Gabe has supporting friends, like John and Sofia, who have his back. I liked this pair of friends! They were good allies with sound advice, and that's something I will always appreciate in books. I specially liked Sofia because she's Mexican. :)
Also, in-between chapters we get to read Gabe's journal entries where he describes moments in the past about his parents when they were alive, and when his Grandfather had yet to develop Alzheimer's. They were interesting bits that worked as a small, happy respite from Gabe's current situation, but they would always end with a tint of melancholy. Still, they may have been my favorite parts of the story!
What didn't do it for me:
This was perhaps a mistake from the ARC or lack of research, but Sofia mentions how she has a tattoo of the Virgen of Guadalupe, who is the Mexican Virgin Mary. It is described that she is wearing a purple robe, when in fact, the Virgen of Guadalupe wears green robes. They are NOT interchangeable and, well, it bugs me that she wasn't described like how she truly is. I believe the Virgin described was the Immaculate Conception Virgin Mary.
No Sad Songs is a heartbreaking tale about dealing with Alzheimer's Disease in the family and keeping your loved ones close as much as you can. It brings awareness of what it means to be a caregiver to a person with this disease, and it is truly something very much needed. It's a book definitely worth to pass around so others can understand the struggle!