The Memory Cage

Every family has its secrets... ours more than most.

About the author

Book author Ruth Eastham was born near Preston in Lancashire, England. She started writing at a young. That lead her to a career of a professional writer. She is the author of four books ,her début being The Memory Cage.

She has a sense for adventure and discovering new things. We can see that in both her personal and professional life.

She's lived all over the world and brings that adventurous spirit into her stories.


If you'd like to know more about her and her work, you can visit her website linked below.

About the book

The Memory Cage was published on January 3rd, 2011, by Schooltastic. It is only available in paperback, but that is not that important. The book has 240 pages, so it's not at all long, and provides a relaxing, quick read.

It was nominated for many different prizes, and in 2012, it won The Inspiration Book Award.


It is available for purchase at: https://www.bookdepository.com/Memory-Cage-Ruth-Eastham/9781407120522

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Synopsis

Spoiler free version:

The main character in this book is Alex. An adopted boy from Bosnia, haunted by his past, that has to also deal with his Grandad's Alzheimer's disease. He was taken in by a British family at the age of 7 after tragically losing his younger brother Nicu. Since then he's been living with the family of 5, plus him and Grandad in a quiet town by the seaside, with a rich history connected to the battle of Dunkirk.


Plot:

It all starts with the family visiting a local fair and them just generally having a good time. At some point at that fair, Grandad is confronted by Mr. Webb and the encounter ends quite badly, as Grandad is physically attacked, earning him a black eye, due to some bad blood that has been there since the 1940's. That stirs up some interest in Alex, as he wants to find out what the whole incident was about. This initial interest later on evolves into something way more serious.

At this point Grandad's Alzheimer's is getting worse and worse, and he often hasoutbreaks when he can't remember anything, and gets stuck in the past. Alex decides to put together a scrapbook for Grandad, featuring pictures that he's always loved taking, which is quite convenient when you want to put together someone's life story.

Whilst making the scrapbook with Grandad, Alex finds out that he married his dad's mother in 1941, while the wedding photo in Dad's study clearly says 1940.

With further research, it is revealed that the photo in Dad's study is the photo of his mother Freda, and his real dad Tommy, Grandad's brother.

Grandad was accused of killing his brother in the battle of Dunkirk by Mr. Webb, who later set fire to Grandad's darkroom in which he developed photos that he took during the war. Freda was killed in the fire that spread up to the top floor of the house, and the whole village accused Grandad of the whole ordeal.

Alex finds out the truth by putting together all the pieces provided by Freda's best friend, his fake great aunt Mildred and the local vicar.

The whole point of finding out the truth is for preventing his parents from putting Grandad in a home, even when he was an obvious hazard to those around him. At one point his Alzheimer's outbreak puts Sophie in grave danger, but luckily the situation resolves in a happy ending.

Later Alex reaveals Grandad's past while the family is having a picnic together, on the morning that Grandad is supposed to go to a home. The family has an emotional moment together, with Alex's dad giving his apology to Grandad for treating him so badly throughout the years, and they agree that Grandad can still stay at home, and that they will take care of him together.

Characters

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My opinion

I honestly didn't like the book. This was my second time reading it, and I liked it even less now than I did before. Some of the details are pretty sketchy and far-fetched, but the author somehow makes them believable. Also, there is more or less zero character development. We only see an end catharsis with Grandad and Dad, but that's more or less it. The other 'developments' are way too sudden, and therefore, in my eyes at least, unbelievable.

The writing style is nothing special, yet understandable for the book's target audience, but considering the theme you might think it was written for older children or rather teenagers. My point here is that the theme is too complicated for those who it was written for, and the language is too simple for those who actually ended up reading it, overall not a great combination, but it's not all that noticeable when reading about Leonard's too obvious insults that are obviously staged. I got the same feeling about his sudden liking for Alex after the boat incident. There is no development. You just get facts slapped in your face, and you have to accept them as they are.

All of the supporting characters seemed really stereotypical to me, and were not at all interesting to read about. Besides the family, they were all only good for giving out information about Grandad.

Overall, I didn't really like the story, and I didn't like the characters, but I still think someone who likes history and doesn't really care about anything else, still might enjoy this book.

Ruth Eastham visiting our school!

Wednesday, April 23rd 2014 at 2pm

72 Tržaška cesta

If you want to know about the event, click the link below!
http://www.gimvic.org/dogodki/wbn_2014/