Not-quite-13-year-old Lulu uncovers family secrets as she struggles to compensate for—and cover up—her beloved grandmother’s mental decline.
With parents who are often (understandably) emotionally unavailable, Lulu is grateful for the constant love and support of her paternal grandmother. But Gram is beginning to be forgetful in frightening ways. Lulu hopes that her own extraordinary memory will help her to figure out how to reverse her grandmother’s decline. Despite the serious subject matter, Lulu’s first-person narration is light and conversational. Each chapter opens with the description of a different part of the human brain, helping to foreshadow the plot’s twists and turns. Over the course of several days and with help from friends Max and Olivia, Lulu attempts to figure out why her allegedly French grandmother has a journal written in Russian—and two different passports. Max and Olivia are convinced that espionage is involved. The subsequent investigation is engaging but not always believable, and Lulu’s insights occasionally make her seem older than her years. The eventual reveal of Gram’s hidden history does not, as Lulu hopes, precipitate a miraculous cure, but it does serve to bring the family closer together. Lulu, her family, and Olivia present white; Max is presumably Latinx (he has a Spanish surname and “speaks Spanish fluently”).
There’s so much going on readers might find it hard to get to know Camiccia’s appealing characters. (Fiction. 9-12)