The Stories Grandma Forgot (and How I Found Them) – Nadine Aisha Jassat

Published By: Orion Children
Pages: 240
Released On: 25/05/2023

Twelve-year-old Nyla’s dad died when she was four, or that’s what she’s been told. So when Grandma Farida insists she saw him in the supermarket, Nyla wonders if she is ‘time-travelling’ again – the phrase she uses when Grandma forgets.

But when Grandma asks Nyla to find her dad and bring him home, Nyla promises that she will.

As Nyla sets out on her journey, she hopes that uncovering the past will help her to understand the mystery at the heart of her family … and to work out who she is.


Thanks to NetGalley and Orion Children for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.

Amazon tells me that the target audience for this book is 9-11, and yet it was perfectly lovely for someone 3x that age. The serious topics give it an edge for adults to ponder, but there’s also an element of magic about it that’s so often missing from adult books, and it was lovely to reclaim that feeling, if only for an hour or two.

My nan died from dementia in 2016, and watching her fade away in the preceding weeks and months was horrible, but in my opinion, it’s not something that should be hidden from children. You don’t want to scare them, so by all means only pick ‘better’ days. But I think it’s important that young children are aware of it and how it can affect families (especially with how common it’s becoming), and this book is a step in the right direction.

I loved how Nadine wrote about Alzheimer’s being like time travel: someone’s mind is journeying to another time or place. That is a beautiful way of seeing it, and it definitely felt as if she had some first-hand experience.

Whilst it is prose and not a poem, there is definitely a poetic feel to the way she has formed the sentences. When you’re reading them, it feels like a little song in your head. Which I suppose shows her talent as a poet.

Having an early digital copy meant that the formatting was slightly off as any illustrations were missing. Generally it didn’t affect the reading of it, and I could fill in the blanks. However, there were some instances that things were so badly formatted that I couldn’t understand any of the words at all. The main bit was, there was a letter in a cream envelope – the contents of which I will not spoil – but in my digital copy something had gone wrong and it was like I was reading hieroglyphics, I couldn’t make out any of it. Luckily, the contents of said letter are mentioned in passing later on in the book and so I didn’t feel like I missed out, but I just wanted to point that out as I cannot obviously comment on whether the images had a positive effect on the story as a whole. I am looking forward to seeing the finished physical product.

It is a very sweet book. Yes it’s sad and thrilling and adventurous, but overall it’s terribly sweet and cosy and caring and loving, nostalgic, sympathetic, honest and beautiful, heartfelt, heart-warming and heart-breaking. I admit it made me cry. Out of happiness and sadness, out of missing my grandparents, out of everything going through this. It was just so very good.

It really touches on some quite serious issues. Not only the Alzheimer’s and memory loss, but racism, the idea of belonging or not belonging, keeping secrets, friendship, loneliness etc. But it is wrapped up in this loving, caring family that makes it feel like a great big warm hug.

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