When Cosmo keeps his promise to go to Blackbrick Abbey, he unlocks the gate to the place his granddad once worked and finds himself in the forgotten corners of a distant past, one that his granddad has, strangely, never really talked about. Here there are new beginnings, memories are just being born, friendships come to life and everything is still possible...
Back to Blackbrick is the story of a young, awkward, solitary teenager, Cosmo, and his grandfather, who is suffering from Alzeimer's disease. Cosmo's relationship with his grandfather is a very close one, so when he starts to lose his memory, and even occasionally forget who Cosmo is, this is very painful and difficult for him to deal with. When a social worker arrives and brings with her the threat of a nursing home, Cosmo is desperate to help his grandfather get his memory back. He searches on the Internet for 'the memory cure', hoping that this will help, but when his grandfather passes him a key one night and tells him that it is for the south gate at Blackbrick Abbey, and he'll meet Cosmo there, he finally admits to himself that maybe his beloved grandfather is losing his mind after all, just as the horrid social worker says.However, not one to break a promise, Cosmo catches a taxi, after everyone has gone to bed, to Blackbrick Abbey - just to have a look around - and finds, to his surprise, that the key works, and the gates swing open to reveal a world that Cosmo would never have expected to become a part of. And it may just help him save his grandfather.
This was an incredibly insightful, witty, compelling and heartfelt novel. Cosmo was a wonderful and relatable narrator, telling the reader his story as he would a friend, which immediately drew me into his world. Although he sometimes acted younger than I imagined him to be, I understood and empathised with him, and despite these moments, he had others where he surprised me with his wit, humour and occasional wisdom. He felt incredibly real, and that made all the difference to my enjoyment of the novel.
The story itself was charming, enjoyable, original and often very moving. I found myself flying through the pages, losing all track of time as I lost myself in Cosmo's words. I hadn't expected to find myself being taken on a time-travelling journey in this book, and even while it was happening I was sceptical that it would all be real, but whether it was or not didn't matter - I was captured by the magic of the experience, and simply didn't want it to end.
When the story did finally start to draw to an end, I found that I'd been worried it would be an ending I'd be unhappy with, without even knowing it. So in love was I with Cosmo and his grandfather, that I hoped above everything that things would turn out well for them. Although the ending was inevitably an emotional one (with such a subject matter as Alzeimer's), it was one that still managed to bring a warm glow to my heart.
Back to Blackbrick is a wonderfully insightful, moving, clever and perfectly endearing novel. I fell in love with it in a moment, and this is certainly a love that will endure. Cosmo's story is likely to stay with me for a long while to come!
The perfect read to warm you through the winter months!