This Last Adventure
When Archie's beloved grandpa is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, Archie desperately wants to slow the progression of his grandpa's memory loss.
Using Grandpa's old journal entries as inspiration, he creates shared role-playing fantasies with epic quests for them to tackle together--allowing Grandpa to live in the present and stay in touch with his fading memories. But as Grandpa's condition gradually worsens, Archie must come to terms with what's happening to his hero. The limits of the fantasies, revelations about Grandpa's past, and a school project about the future force Archie to grapple with what it truly means to live a life worth remembering.
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"Dalton deftly explores the anguish of a family when a beloved father and grandfather begins to lose his memories as he faces the onset of Alzheimer's. One morning eighth-grader Archie Reese's grandfather doesn't recognize him. Archie, uneasy and disturbed, can't figure out a way to approach his mother about this event. Since he and his grandfather used to engage in fabulous fantasies together, Archie tries to pull his grandfather back from the fog by engaging him in daring action fantasies based on his Granddad's life-long experiences as a firefighter. Archie begins to discriminate between Granddad's "real self" and his "lost self". At the same time Archie, a scholarship student, tries to navigate social life at his private school more adeptly; he may even want a girlfriend! In the effort to complete a student project "what you want to be", Archie makes closer friendships with some students he didn't trust, finds that having a girl as a friend is possible, and finally determines his personal focus for his project. Meanwhile, his aunts and uncles and mother come to recognize that their father, Archie's grandfather, may need more help than they can provide, but Granddad has made his own plans. The characters, adults and students, are realistically portrayed in their family and friend relationships as are the symptoms of Alzheimer's and family responses to them. This is an excellent book for students who are close to their grandparents and wonder about Alzheimer's. Could be valuable for school counselors to have on hand and for librarians to recommend for students with questions. An Author's Note explains the origins of the book in the author's own grandfather's battle with Alzheimer's and Questions for Discussion make this book useful in a book club or counseling group. Reviewer Rating 5" --Children's Literature
"Thirteen-year-old Archie Reese and his grandfather have a morning routine, always 'the same conversation, to get the day started right.' But one morning, Grandpa doesn't recognize Archie. After Grandpa is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, Archie hopes he can 'bring the real Raymond Reese back.' Using Grandpa's old journals from his firefighting days, Archie creates role-playing games with quests for the two to share. In their first foray, our heroes are armed, cloaked, and ready for action in a backyard kingdom, where the woods beyond become a fantasy realm, an ordinary building becomes the duke's manor, a cave is the site of hidden gold, and the garage is the dragon to be slain. Grandpa plays his role well, and the quest is successful, but as the disease progresses, their efforts begin to fail. Archie is devastated but accepts that fantasy must give way to reality and ultimately finds a way to celebrate Grandpa's life. Archie is a believably drawn, likable protagonist--kind to his grandfather, enthusiastic in English and history classes, and shy about getting to know pretty classmate Desta Senai. Dalton sensitively delineates the complexities of loss, hope, and love in this unusually rich and philosophical middle-grade novel. Back matter includes an author's note explaining the story's inspiration."--The Horn Book Magazine-- (5/1/2022 12:00:00 AM)
"Eighth grader Archie and his grandfather have an exceptionally close relationship. Archie and his mother have lived at his grandfather's house his whole life, and the older man is the closest thing to a father Archie has ever known. He's shocked when his grandfather does not recognize him one morning, and the family is devastated by his ultimate Alzheimer's diagnosis. Archie and his mother have very different ways of coping with his Grandpa's memory loss; his mother avoids thinking about it, dating so often Archie can't keep track of her dates' names. Archie is frequently left alone 'in charge' of his grandfather. On bad days, when his grandfather is disoriented, Archie revives an old game the two used to play of reenacting adventures, sometimes using his grandfather's journal entries for prompts. This tactic ultimately backfires, and makes Archie realize there is little he can do to help slow the disease. Balancing a complex home life with school is sometimes challenging for Archie; he is navigating typical 13-year-old challenges around crushes and identity while carrying a larger burden. His supportive friend group helps ground Archie, keeping him a relatable character learning to navigate his feelings and relationships. This poignant novel explores complex and difficult issues with hope and humor. Characters' evolving feelings and self-realization are realistically portrayed, as are conflict and resolutions between characters. The fantasy sections of the book, where Archie and his grandfather reenact adventures, are imaginatively written and provide readers, along with Archie and his grandfather, a respite from the heartbreak of watching Grandpa deteriorate. Archie and his family are white. Archie's best friend is Japanese and Hawaiian, his friend Desta's parents immigrated from Ethiopia, and his friend Kamiko is Japanese American. VERDICT This novel sensitively explores difficult issues with hope and warmth, creating believable characters readers will care about."--School Library Journal-- (3/3/2022 12:00:00 AM)
"'Grandpa didn't recognize me today.' This heartbreaking statement opens Dalton's tale of 13-year-old Archie, whose beloved grandfather has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. No longer able to ignore the symptoms, Archie is desperate to retard Grandpa's memory loss. That's when he remembers the fantasy adventures they used to share and decides to revive them. Soon the two are battling dragons, but the success of this strategy only temporary. In the meantime, Archie and his friends are given a major school assignment: write an essay and mount a display about their future. Archie secretly hopes that his future might involve lovely Desta, on whom he has a major crush, but he is afraid to make a move. As for the assignment, he hasn't a clue what topic to choose. What does he want to make of his life? And what to make of this book? Its first half is rather tepid, but it is redeemed by a dramatic second half that will deeply involve--and move--its readers. An important subject and one that, altogether, is well-handled."--Booklist-- (2/15/2022 12:00:00 AM)