Something a little bit different this week on Dementia Network’s book review column – a children’s thriller with dementia as a key storyline, written by an author with a detailed experience of the condition.
Caroline Boxall’s sympathetic understanding and portrayal of the condition stems from her own experience of watching her mother-in-law battle the disease. In vain, she searched for a book that would help her children understand dementia, but, she says, “The book didn’t exist – so I wrote it.”
The action switches between the lives of Billy in England in the present day, and Manya living in Russia 16 years earlier. The two stories intertwine and eventually meet in an astonishing and unexpected revelation. Billy lives on the dementia floor of a care home with his grandmother – and the residents at the care home all have different types of dementia.
“It gave me an opportunity to show differences within the dementia spectrum, while at the same time giving the story more depth and interest.” said Boxall. “The characters are not at all the sad, helpless individuals we are shown regularly on the news. They may not be the people they were before the condition struck, but they are, nevertheless entertaining, amusing and wise. Seen through the eyes of a child (Billy), each elderly resident is accepted for who they are right now.”
The reception for the book, which was published in November, has been very positive, and there has been much praise for the wide range of ages that can access the book. “I have three sons aged between 11 and 15 and they have all read this and thoroughly enjoyed it..” said one enthusiastic reviewer on Amazon. “It has also created great family discussion about a difficult topic.”
Boxall lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and five children. You can read more on her blog here.