A grandmother and granddaughter’s shared escapade bares unhappy truths.
Brainy, white, bespectacled Cricket Cohen, a Manhattan sixth-grader, thinks deep scientific thoughts. Her philanthropist parents don’t get her, nor she them. This isn’t Cricket’s only problem. While she revels in cosmic truths, she bends facts about her own life a lot. This alienates would-be friends and requires her to rewrite a mostly fabricated memoir. The person who appreciates Cricket most and to whom she doesn’t lie is her maternal grandmother, Dodo, a mischievous free spirit. Now living down the hall and attended by a paid helper, Dodo longs for independence and adventure. The opportunity arises when Cricket’s parents go out of town, leaving her with Dodo. The two take off, booking a posh Manhattan hotel room and dining and shopping in a pricey department store. Dramatic evidence of Dodo’s precarious mental state comes to the fore when store security holds her for shoplifting and alert the police, who take her and Cricket into protective custody. Alzheimer’s disease is gently explained, and the family concedes that help is needed. While Cricket and Dodo are sympathetic and well-portrayed, Cricket’s parents are stereotypes. Mrs. Cohen’s a self-absorbed, pushy workaholic; Mr. Cohen’s wishy-washy. The breezy, wink-wink depictions of NYC ethos become tiresome, though out-of-towners may appreciate some of the landmark references. The ending, Cricket’s poignant rewritten memoir, is realistic but hopeful.
May reassure readers with aging relatives facing Alzheimer’s. (Fiction. 10-12)