Book review: The Stories Grandma Forgot

The Stories Grandma Forgot (and how I found them)

Nadine Aisha Jassat

Orion

Review: Lauren O’Connor-May

I once read a review that called a book “a warm hug”. That’s how I feel about this poignant book. It is an emotional whirlwind that tells a story about friendship, family, heritage and racism wrapped in bits of poetry.

The story is about Nyla Elachi, a 12-year-old only child of her white British mum and Zimbabwean dad. Nyla spends her days at school, at the library and taking care of her elderly granny, who has dementia, or as her family calls it “time travels”.

When Nyla is assigned a family history project she starts looking through her family’s photos and important documents for references and she discovers something puzzling.

Her grandma’s random ramblings also suddenly turn lucid when she is convinced that she is seeing her late son, Nyla’s father, everywhere. Each sighting is accompanied by confusing clues which leads Nyla to believe that her mom has a big secret that she is hiding to protect her.

Nyla follows the trail of confusing clues and along the way meets new and old friends and unexpected allies. The journey also brings her face to face with racism and how prejudices in the past fractured her family’s future.

Beautifully written, this lyrical book had me sobbing halfway through and smiling at the end.

This is a must-have for every children’s bookshelf.