About the book

Forgetting Foster, is the powerful story of a young boy whose father develops Alzheimer's disease, from the highly acclaimed author of A Small Madness.

Foster Sumner is seven years old. He likes toy soldiers, tadpole hunting, going to school and the beach. Best of all, he likes listening to his dad's stories.

But then Foster's dad starts forgetting things. No one is too worried at first. Foster and Dad giggle about it. But the forgetting gets worse. And suddenly no one is laughing anymore.

A heartbreaking story about what it means to forget and to be forgotten.

Book cover of Forgetting Foster by Dianne Touchell
Published by: 
Allen & Unwin

About the author


Dianne Touchell was born and raised in Fremantle, Western Australia. Her debut novel Creepy & Maud (Fremantle Press) was Shortlisted for the Children's Book Council of Australia's Book of the Year Award in 2013 in the Older Readers category. Her second novel, A Small Madness, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2015.

She has worked as a fry cook, a nightclub singer, a housekeeper, a bookseller and manager of a construction company. Sometimes she has time to write books for young adults, who she thinks are far more interesting than grown-ups. She lives with animals.

Image of author Dianne Touchell

Judges’ comments

In a refreshing departure from the self-conscious and sometimes cynically introspective world-view of many young adult book characters, this novel plots the progress of an intensely adult situation from the point-of-view of a child. Seen through the eyes of seven-year-old Foster, the narrative is a naïve, clear-eyed and often brutally candid observation of the cruelty of Alzheimer’s. Foster’s father has always been a lively, charismatic storyteller, but then holes begin to appear in his memory and his behaviour starts to become erratic. Foster valiantly refuses to acknowledge the gravity of the changes in his dad, but is all too conscious of the changes in his mother’s attitude: overworked, over-tired and overwrought, she has little emotional energy left for Foster. Duplicitous family members and neighbours contribute to the emotional wreckage.

This novel is an elegant and agonising portrait of the breakdown and realignment of family configurations, the pressures on friendships, and the spectrum of emotional damage experienced by both child and adult characters. Foster wades through extremes of puzzlement, betrayal, loyalty, mortification, estrangement, rage, guilt, compassion and love. He must navigate the behaviour of the flawed adults in his life, the unthinking childhood cruelty of his classmates, and finds himself battling between filial loyalty and social self-preservation, while clinging hopefully to his father’s brief moments of lucidity. But, in an enigmatic ending, and without fanfare, Foster silently and with gentle finality comes to terms with the inevitable.