Loose Connections ISBN: 9781847802934
Published by Frances Lincoln Childrens Books, 2012
Jake's father is in training in the U.S for a new job, his mum is in hospital because she is in the last stages of pregnancy and is prone to miscarriages, and Jake is staying with his gran. This should not be a problem; they are close, and he has often stayed with her before. But shortly after this arrangement begins, gran begins to act very strange. All the symptoms of dementia are there (in this case probably caused by a stroke), so Jake becomes the carer, and he doesn't know what to do. He feels he can't tell his parents because dad badly needs the new job and mum mustn't be worried because of the precarious nature of her pregnancy. He copes very well under the circumstances, but the situation becomes increasingly difficult to hide. When a strange girl about his age appears on the scene, and she and gran form a bond that he can't understand, he can only be grateful for her help. The lady next door, who has a disabled son and has always been considered a busy body by the family, makes tentative offers to help too, but Jake rejects her. The strange girl, called Verity, has a bond with sick animals too, and in some mystical scenes where Jake encounters the animals she is trying to help in a nearby empty house, he begins to feel that Verity might not be quite what she seems. The ending of this sensitive and highly readable novel is too interesting to give away, but it resounds with a believable fantasy element and Jake's growing up in several important ways. Gran's growing dementia is very realistically presented, and the 'loose connections' come through in all sorts of interesting directions.