Older Adult’s Problem: Psychological impact of suddenly living with a permanent physical disability
Youth Savior Solution: A ramp.
The Moral: Older adults who develop physical disabilities are doomed to a life of despair without outsider help.
I’m getting picky on this one – only because I love this book soooo muuuch. Gay grampas! Multi/transracial family constellations! Nonbinary character who uses they/them pronouns! So lovely! And it’s all marred by a couple issues.
The first part of the book is gold – both Grampas are depicted as vibrant, interesting, and fun. They’ love their grandchild, Lou, but they don’t need Lou to entertain them. They have independent lives and taste. So sweet, and so nice.
But the dig is when one of the Grampas has a fall, and gains a permanen physically disability. Grampa is shook, which I get it – that’s a big life change to deal with. But the book wobbles a little toward disability as a life-ending flaw, which is pretty ableist.
From there, the gramps can obviously build a ramp themselves. But Lou does it for them, and that magically cheers up their depressed grampa. Which minimizes 1. What a big life change it is to go from abled to living with a disability, and how valid it is to need time to process that, and 2. The fact that grampas can come up with obvious logistical solutions on their own.
The ramp is a metaphor – I get it. A symbol of love and accommodations, and support. But because this book could swing either way, depending on the reader, it feels a little lazy. I will spell it out to my kids that grampa’s despair is about a life change, not because having a disability is a bad thing. I’ll also point out that obviously someone was going to build a ramp, and it’s the show of love and innovation that cheered grampa up, not the physical ramp.
But will casual readers?
So read this, enjoy it, and please be cautious to unpack the ableism and ageism kids will pick up if left to come to their own conclusions.