Royce (aka Rolly) is having a bad year. Not only has his mother dragged him across the country in order to be close to her aged father Arthur, a celebrated cellist, but he's also recovering from mono. When he convinces his mother to let him finish the school year by correspondence, he's left feeling isolated and lonely, and spends his time watching TV and plotting ways to get back to his friends in Nova Scotia. But before his plans can be implemented, his grandfather has a small stroke. Suddenly Arthur needs more care than Royce's mother can provide and, after a couple of hired care aides quit, Royce is pressed into service.
Forced to move from Nova Scotia to British Columbia and still recovering from mono, 16-year-old Royce Peterson is down in the dumps. In hopes of saving enough money to drive back to Nova Scotia, he takes on the thankless job of caring for his cranky, 95-year-old grandfather, Arthur, who has suffered a stroke ("Mom says he's just understandably self-involved, being so old and all. I don't know anyone else that old, so I don't know whether old age always goes hand in hand with rampaging egotism"). Caring for verbally abusive and depressed Arthur is a huge burden, until Royce regains some of his strength and catches glimpses of his grandfather's younger self celebrated cellist, owner of a 1956 T-bird, ladies' man, and citizen of the world. Harvey's writing is energetic, and Royce's snarky narration is sure to keep readers' attention. While the story is somewhat lacking in depth, Harvey (The Lit Report) avoids sentimentality and sheds light on the value of the past, family dynamics, and a person's ability to adapt to less than ideal circumstances. Ages 12 up.