By Maureen Tai, 23 October 2017
Parents of protagonists in middle-grade fiction lead perilous lives, if they are permitted to live at all. Bigfoot, Tobin and Me is no exception.
Lemonade Liberty Witt, the plucky 10-year old heroine in this story, loses her adored single mother to that insidious disease, cancer. Drowning in her grief, Lem is sent to live with her grandfather who is her last surviving relation and from whom her mother was estranged most of her adult life. She finds herself surrounded by others who are similarly stricken by tremendous loss, but who yet manage to keep themselves afloat due to their seemingly unshakeable belief in the existence of Bigfoot.
Lem almost immediately finds gainful employment at Bigfoot Detectives Inc. which is run with military precision by the unusual, often exasperating but oddly likeable Tobin Sky. Lem and Tobin embark on a series of expeditions to find the illusive creature, discovering friendship, adventure, a possibly new species of primate (with feet that measure over 15 inches in length and who may – or may not – like Twinkies) and ultimately, what their hearts truly yearn for.
As Lem’s heartbreaking story is set in the mid-1970s, it is a nostalgic read for adults of that generation (myself included), but I’m not sure that I’d be able to handle reading it with my kids. It hits, too many times, too close to the target, and I catch myself holding my breath because the quicksand that Lem describes is swallowing me up as well, and I have to stop and pull myself together. Anyone who has suffered, or is suffering, the loss of a loved one, will feel that loss starkly between these pages. What saves me are the likeable characters, the banter between the likeable characters and the easy, unhurried clip at which events unfold, as they did in those pre-Internet days of old.
For ages 9 and up.