Review of This Last Adventure

This Last Adventure This Last Adventure
by Ryan Dalton
Intermediate, Middle School    Carolrhoda    304 pp.    g
2/22    978-1-5415-9928-4    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-7284-5122-0    $9.99

Thirteen-year-old Archie Reese and his grandfather have a morning routine, always “the same conversation, to get the day started right.” But one morning, Grandpa doesn’t recognize Archie. After Grandpa is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Archie hopes he can “bring the real Raymond Reese back.” Using Grandpa’s old journals from his firefighting days, Archie creates role-playing games with quests for the two to share. In their first foray, our heroes are armed, cloaked, and ready for action in a backyard kingdom, where the woods beyond become a fantasy realm, an ordinary building becomes the duke’s manor, a cave is the site of hidden gold, and the garage is the dragon to be slain. Grandpa plays his role well, and the quest is successful, but as the disease progresses, their efforts begin to fail. Archie is devastated but accepts that fantasy must give way to reality and ultimately finds a way to celebrate Grandpa’s life. Archie is a believably drawn, likable protagonist—kind to his grandfather, enthusiastic in English and history classes, and shy about getting to know pretty classmate Desta Senai. Dalton sensitively delineates the complexities of loss, hope, and love in this unusually rich and philosophical middle-grade novel. Back matter includes an author’s note explaining the story’s inspiration.

From the May/June 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Dean Schneider
Dean Schneider teaches seventh and eighth grades at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee.

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