Review: The Stickleback Catchers

The Stickleback Catchers is a heart-breaking, yet hopeful, story of family and friendship which completely captured me.

Eleven-year-old Mimi lives with her Grandparents in a flat above their Bowling Club. It is clear that she adores them, and they her but, when she arrives home to a stranger in a suit visiting, she senses that they are hiding something from her.  Gran is wonderfully eccentric, a former opera singer who wears camouflage and waders to take Mimi shopping, so it breaks Mimi’s heart when she sees how forgetful Gran is becoming.  Coinciding with Gran’s deteriorating memory, Mimi sees cracks appearing around her home and meets a mysterious crow who is able to communicate with her.

Mimi finds two new friends in Titch who has replied to her Gran’s advert for a Stickleback Catcher and Nusrat who runs her own podcast solving puzzles.  These new friends become The Stickleback Catchers, determined to solve mysteries and seek adventure.

When Mimi and Titch visit the river where they find sticklebacks, they also find an unusual stone speckled with stars which leads to the opening of a doorway to another world:  a world of talking crows, of stored memories and of those charged with protecting these memories.  Can Mimi find the key to unlocking her Gran’s lost memories in this world? 

This is the most heartachingly beautiful story of family, of friendship and of finding the courage to accept change, to treasure memories and to support those we love through loss. 

Mimi is the most incredible young girl who is fighting through her fear, hurt and anger as the Gran who she clearly adores becomes lost to her through her memory loss.  Her fallability makes her such a sympathetic character. 

I loved both the fantastical elements in this story and the contemporary ones and thought they blended beautifully to show the confusion, fear, pain and desperation inherent in coping with a loved one’s illness, but also the hope and joy in memories of past times, in learning to accept change and in being there to offer love and support and a sense of belonging.

Thank you to the Publisher and NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for my honest review.

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