The Space Between Lost and Found

Book review by
Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media
The Space Between Lost and Found Book Poster Image
Heartfelt story of a girl losing her mom to Alzheimer's.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Lots of information on dolphins. Some math concepts explained. Insight into Alzheimer's disease and its effect on patients and their families.

Positive Messages

Live for the moment. Show your love for the important people in your life. Learn how to apologize and take responsibility for your actions. Art and beauty can come from painful situations. Patience, empathy, and compassion are important traits to cultivate at any age.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Cassie is a good, loving kid. She makes a risky decision and lies to her dad, but her heart is in the right place. Bailey is a great friend to Cassie. She is direct when talking about her feelings and is forgiving toward Cassie. Cassie's dad tries to do the right thing for everyone in the family. The book's minor characters are all kind, caring people.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism

Most brands mentioned for scene setting, including Takis, Ritz, Easy Cheese, Cheez-Its, Gatorade, Doritos, Rice Krispie Treats, David sunflower seeds, Lay's chips, Cool Whip, Gorilla Glue, Chromebook, and iPod.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Space Between Lost and Found, by Sandy Stark-McGinnis (Extraordinary Birds), is about a girl, Cassie, whose mom has early onset Alzheimer's disease. (An author's note reveals Cassie is 12, but it's never mentioned in the main story.) Cassie's not seeing eye to eye with her dad on her mom's care, and she hasn't had time for her best friend, Bailey. On top of that, inspiration for her artwork, which is her usual emotional outlet, has dried up. In dealing with these issues, she learns important things about herself and grows up a lot. Though the subject matter is serious, Stark-McGinnis keeps the content middle-grade appropriate, with a gentle tone and no violence, strong language, sexual situations, or substance use. Characters who disagree do so rationally for the most part. Although, Cassie makes a poor decision to lie to her dad and take her mom on a trip. The book offers good discussion topics about dealing with a crisis, decision making, love, trust, and grief.

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What's the story?

In THE SPACE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND, Cassie's loving, spirited mom is fading away due to early onset Alzheimer's disease. Cassie's bothered when her mom forgets basic things like where things go in the kitchen, but she's devastated when she forgets Cassie's name. Cassie and her dad have different opinions on the best way to deal with her mom's illness. The home stress is causing Cassie to ignore her best friend, possibly wrecking that relationship for good. Adding to all that frustration, she's not even sure she wants to participate in her school's art contest this year. Her ideas, which usually come easily and constantly, are at a standstill because of her worry over her mom. Cassie latches on to her mom's love of dolphins and the fact that her mom hasn't lost her fascination with them. She hatches a plan to check one important item off her mom's bucket's list: swimming with dolphins. Can she convince her dad to take her mom to swim with dolphins? Can she sneak her disoriented, unpredictable mom to the nearest dolphin facility three hours away? Is she hoping to give her mom a memory to hold on to, or is she really looking create her own last memory with her mom? 

Is it any good?

This is a moving, heartfelt story of a girl figuring out how to deal with slowly losing her mom to Alzheimer's disease. The tone of The Space Between Lost and Found is gentle, even though the topic is sad. Author Sandy Stark-McGinnis does a good job of showing readers how Cassie and her dad have different approaches to handling her mom's illness and that neither of them is wrong. Both have to give in a little, and what works for one person doesn't always work for someone else. Cassie has to shift from being the one cared for to being a caregiver, and she deals with it pretty well, in that she faces the reality of her family's situation while still keeping room for hope. She does make a poor decision involving taking her mom on a trip, and that's an important topic for families to discuss. Having your heart in the right place doesn't mean your actions are smart or correct.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way Cassie and her dad deal with her mom's illness in The Space Between Lost and Found. Many books for kids and young adults deal with the topic of illness and dying. Why do you think these are interesting topics for readers? 

  • What do you think about Cassie's decision to take her mom on a trip without her dad knowing? Was it a dangerous move? 

  • Do you have hobbies or interests that take your mind off of your problems? What are they and how do they help you?

Book details

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For kids who love coming-of-age stories

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