cover image Lalo Lespérance Never Forgot

Lalo Lespérance Never Forgot

Phillippe Diederich. Dutton, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-59335-428-5

An 11-year-old endeavors to build a machine to recover his lost memories in this thoughtful novel by Diederich (Diamond Park), set at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Lalo Lespérance has always had trouble remembering things, including details about his deceased father. When lockdowns begin, he’s stuck in his Fort Myers apartment complex with his older brother and forced to attend online school with neighbor kid Vivi. He spends his free time tinkering with his brother’s broken PlayStation, hoping to turn it into a memory machine and teams up with Vivi to investigate a mysterious motor home parked outside their building that’s rumored to kidnap children. His discovery of an old radio that seemingly helps him remember his past might be the answer to his woes—or the beginning of a whole new set of problems. Subplots starring neighbors and challenges within his apartment block provide insightful looks into one community’s experience navigating the pandemic. In spare, resonant prose, Diederich dives into the complexities of family, identity, and memory through Lalo, who feels it’s impossible to define who he is when he can’t remember the events—and people—that shaped him. Lalo is Mexican and Haitian American; the supporting cast is racially diverse. Ages 10–up. (Sept.)