Monday, January 31, 2011

Book Review: The Memory Cage by Ruth Eastham

Title: The Memory Cage
Author: Ruth Eastham
Publisher: Scholastic
Publishing Date: January 2011
Length: 227 pages
Genre: MG 

4/5 **** The Memory Cage- A meaningful debut about the delicate balancing act between present and past, fear and courage, loosing or finding oneself!  

~ The Author ~

Ruth Eastham was born near Preston in Lancashire, England. Since then she has lived in York, Hull, Penrith, Palmerston North (New Zealand), Cambridge, Brisbane (Australia), Nottingham and Duino (Italy) and thinks she’s got a little bit of all these places in her!

For further information visit

~ The Novel ~

The Memory Cage, published in January 2011, is the debut novel of author Ruth Eastham.

~ The Story ~

Alex's Grandfather keeps forgetting things. Desperate to help him remember, Alex starts collecting old photographs. Bust as Alex digs into his grandfather's past, he stumbles across secrets that have been buried since World War II. Uncovering the truth could save Grandad ... but it might also tear Alex apart.

Summary by Goodreads

Interested? Read the first chapter here

~ The Review ~

The Memory Cage  is a story about a granddad who fears loosing his memories over an illness and his grandson who cannot forget his past, although it’s the only thing he wishes for.

This novel is told from Alex point of view, an ordinary teenager from the outside, that appears to be a troubled child on the inside. Being subject to terrifying memories of his past and psychical games in the present, he still appears very mature and like a grown- up, especially when it comes to protecting his grandad. Alex is very sensitive, caring and responsible always trying to help him.

I do not read many Middle Grade novels, because I always tend miss a connection to the main protagonist, that is much younger than I am, but Alex made me immediately like him. He’s the underdog and I care for him.

Alex and his grandfather share a very intimate relationship.  And when his parents want to put grandpa in an old peoples’ home because his Alzheimer’s is getting worse each day, Alex is determined to find a way to scatter their plans and bring back his grandfather’s memory not knowing what hidden secrets he might come across.

On their journey, willing or unwilling, to the past Alex and his grandfather ,William Smith have their funny and sad moments. Their relationship warms my heart, because it never appears constructed, but always very realistic. Grandad has his secrets and just as Alex I couldn’t wait to reveal them.

I hadn’t imagined William’s Alzheimer’s to be too hard to read about, as I haven’t come in contact with such an illness before, but at some point when he keeps forgetting major things and even big parts of his daily life I became extremely sad, unterstanding the terrible impact of such an illness. 
Alzheimer’s is presented in an informative way, giving for MG appropriate and understandable basic information about the illness.

In addition it also addresses the topic of war, making it accessible with a certain example, discussions and conflict potential within the Smith family. 

This novel is such a precious debut because it deals with most important and high sensitive topics that must affect one. The Memory Cage encourages young teens to think about what’s important in life, to be an active part in political debates and generational exchanges.

~ We love this book because~

1) one single photo can change everything
2) of cocodriles and transhlers
3) it addresses important  topics with social relevance like Alzheimer’s and war
4) librarians are powerful memory keepers
5) the flood might wash away every single letter of your writing in the sand, but it doesn’t take away its truth and persistence

~ The Verdict ~

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Memory Cage, it made me smile and frown, hope and fear and on some pages I couldn’t stop the tears from rolling down my face.
This novel has feeling and personality and is not only a recommendable read for Middle Grade students, but for all age groups.

~ Thanks to Ruth Eastham and Scholastic UK for sending me a copy of The Memory Cage

~ Watch out for an interview with Ruth Eastham + Giveaway :) 


  1. I absolutely love your review!! MG books are not something I typically get excited about, either, but this book sounds wonderful, one that I could really emotionally connect to! I will link to it in my Thursday News Roundup - thanks for sharing!

    -Linds, bibliophile brouhaha

  2. I will def have to read the first ch. Your review has me really intrigued.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  3. Stories about strong relationships are always heartwarming...
    I like the way you describe the strong relationship between Alex and his grandfather..
    I'll definitely gonna read this...

  4. This book sounds really beautiful... I'm so sensitive to Alzheimer's disease because I've to deal with it in my personal life... it's such a terrible disease...

  5. This sounds like an overall great read. With enough emotions written along the way to make you think. Great review.

  6. I have no problem reading MG book. I still read lots of book of them. I enjoyed reading them.

    From your review The Memory Cage sounds a book that will break every reader's heart. Alzheimer is totally horrible illness.

  7. Ohh it sounds cute and heart warming. I've been finding myself reading more and more middle grade books, and I think I'd like The Memory Cage. Alzheimer is a sad illness, I once met a person who had it, and it was terrible....usually people just want to run away from it so that's why I think it's interesting and sweet that the protagonists wants to help his sick grandfather.

  8. I confess I'm not sure what is meant by a MG book - it's not terminology I've come across before. How does it equate with YA? I'm guessing this book is aimed just right at my 11 year old though, and would love to read it myself.