by Richard Scrimger
“Fred is a sixth-grader reeling from the loss of his beloved dog, Casey. Every day he walks home from school bouncing Casey’s old worn-out tennis ball. One day, the ball falls down a sewer grate, and Fred can’t bear to leave it down there. He pries open the grate and stumbles down. Through the sewer, Fred enters a parallel universe: Casey is alive, his mom and sister are happier, and there’s a version of Fred who’s happier too. Spending time with Casey, Fred feels joy for the first time since his dog’s death, but he slowly realizes that the loss of Casey is masking an even greater loss: the death of Fred’s father. Fred brings his sister, Izzy, to this upside-down world of lost things in the hope of finding their father and bringing him back. Can everything that is lost be found again?”
The topic of death is never an easy one to broach, especially with children who have gone through a loss. That’s why I loved Downside Up. Scrimger does a great job of creating this alternate world where a young boy lives out the desires of anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one – he gets to meet them again. In the world of Downside Up, he reunites with his dog Casey, and eventually, his own father, whose loss he had blocked out of his memory.
I was deeply moved and close to tears on many occasions throughout this book. It is a novel that should be picked up with care, and careful intention as it is not a light, fun read, despite the appearances of the cover.