Thank you to uclan publishing for inviting me to be part of the Blog Tour for the wonderful The Octopus, Dadu and Me and for providing me with a copy in exchange for my honest opinion. Today, I’m sharing my Review and an extract of Chapter 1.
The Octopus, Dadu and Me is an incredibly touching, sensitively portrayed story of friendship, family and acceptance that brought tears and smiles as I was completely captured by both Sashi’s rescue mission and her emotional journey.
12-year-old Sashi has been told by her parents that she can no longer visit her beloved Dadu who has dementia and is in a home. Even though her Dadu no longer recognises her, she doesn’t understand her parents’ decision, and is heartbroken by the separation.
Whilst visiting the local aquarium to help deal with her grief, Sashi makes a close connection with Ian who wants her help to leave the aquarium as he is trapped there. She may not be able to visit and help her Dadu, but she is determined to assist Ian. Except there is a problem … Ian is an octopus, and she has no idea how she is going rescue him. Can Sashi come up with an ingenious plan to free Ian without being caught? Can she convince her friends Darcie and Hassan to help in the heist? And could rescuing Ian help her find a way back to her Dadu?
As well as her determination to free Ian, Sashi is struggling to accept her Dadu’s dementia and her changed relationship with him, especially as her parents feel it is best that she doesn’t visit him. It is clear from her memories of her Dadu that Sashi has a close and special bond with him and that they enjoyed a warm, caring relationship filled with love. Her memories of Dadu’s first signs of dementia, of his forgetfulness and fear, will resonate with anyone who has been through this with a loved one, and brought tears as it immediately took me back to the start of my dad’s dementia.
This is both an exciting adventure and a poignant story of a family dealing with a loved one’s dementia and I think these two strands connect perfectly throughout the story. Sashi uses her mission to rescue Ian as a way to help her cope with her feelings of helplessness at being unable to help her Dadu who she feels is trapped and unable to communicate in the same way as Ian.
Sashi is an incredibly sympathetic young girl who shows great courage and determination in her efforts to free Ian whilst struggling with guilt and grief as her family dynamics and friendships change. She makes mistakes in her actions and friendships as she wants to keep control of Ian’s rescue, knowing that she doesn’t have the same choices in relation to her Dadu. I really liked both Darcie and Hassan who show themselves to be supportive, kind and caring friends even if Sashi is not always able to accept their advice due to her own emotional turmoil.
I loved the comic strip illustrations throughout which complement the story perfectly, showing both the warmth in Sashi’s relationships and her connection with Ian. I also really enjoyed the fascinating facts about octopuses which are shared in bold text throughout the story.
This is poignant, heart-warming, empathetic story of the strength and love of family and friendship, of the pain of loss and acceptance, and of the joy in memories and making connections.
Extract: Chapter 1
Do check out the other stops on the Blog Tour: