Thomas learns to navigate his grief when his mother disappears by creating a fantasy story about his mother where she is safe.
One morning 10-year-old Thomas’s mother tells him about a dream she had about taking a trip by herself–which is odd because lately his mother has been too depressed to even leave the house. But when Thomas gets home from school, she’s gone. The police search everywhere, and although they find her car, they can’t find her. Thomas’s neighbor helps him cope with his anxiety by having him think up a fantasy about where she might have gone. As time passes, Thomas takes charge of the story sending his mother on a quest in the astral plane. With the help of this narrative journey, his family, and his friends, Thomas begins to realize that even if his mother never comes back, he can still hold a place for her in his heart and mind.
“A boy struggles to make sense of his mother’s disappearance in this meditative middle-grade novel . . . Short, slowly paced chapters from Thomas’ first-person point of view form the main narrative, interspersed with an invented fairy tale he imagines with his kind, elderly Hungarian neighbor, Mrs. Sharp, who as a girl was separated from her father during World War II. . . . A poignant, earnest story of grief and hope for fans of realistic fiction.” —Kirkus Reviews
“This novel is incredibly heartwarming and the characters feel very real. VERDICT: A great addition to any collection and one that may certainly help children dealing with their own personal losses.” –Wayne R. Cherry Jr., St. Pius X High School, School Library Journal
“Unbearably sad in the best way, this story traces Thomas’s grief journey with redemptive wisdom and quiet elegance.” – Bulletin for the Center of the Book, New York
“[This book will] spark conversations about emotional intelligence and stereotypes of masculinity. Stauffacher has written an interesting take on how to handle grief from a young boy’s perspective.” – Lindsey Tomsu, Booklist
“Although this book is filled with sadness and uncertainty, it concludes on a hopeful note, with Thomas, his father, his aunt, and their friends finding peace in the grieving process. This story is a tactful look at two difficult topics: depression and suicide. It also teaches the reader to treat others with grace and compassion as each of us handles emotional struggle differently.” – Laura McConnell, Library Director, East Morgan County Library, Brush, Colorado | School Library Connection