Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Waiting to Forget, by Sheila Kelly Welch

Last year, I read all of the books on South Carolina's Junior Book Award Finalist and found that I thoroughly enjoyed most of them; Waiting to Forget is one of this year's books, and after reading it, I'm encouraged to attempt the whole list again this year.

Waiting to Forget is about two young children, T.J. and Angela, who have been in and out of foster care for their whole lives and have recently landed a permanent adoptive home. Soon after being adopted, Angela (the younger sibling) is in a accident - the details of the accident aren't revealed until the very end of the novel - so the book takes place in the waiting room of a hospital, as T.J. ponders where they've been, what they've seen, and how they've gotten to this point in their lives. The entire narrative is told in alternating chapters "Then" (when he and Angela lived with their mother and various foster families) and "Now" (while sitting in the hospital waiting room, and is revealed through T.J.'s "Life Book", which he was forced to make as a therapy project by one of his social workers.

I loved the simplistic, to-the-point style of the novel - the narrator described everything that T.J. and his sister went through with a very matter-of-fact tone, which for some reason worked to make things all the more emotional. T.J.'s mother had a string of no-good boyfriends who inevitably put the kids in trouble, and the way these evil characters were described, through their actions, was great.

Throughout the whole novel, T.J. founds himself pondering the difference between lies and reality, especially as he finds himself lying for his mother to keep her out of trouble. This novel really made me think about how we lie to protect people, even when we know it's not necessarily in our best interest.

Through the course of this short novel, T.J. undergoes a complete transformation in terms of his views of his past life and current situation, and I loved the way it was brought about through the contrast between the "Then" and "Now" chapters.

Although this novel is nowhere near as graphic as A Child Called It, which I think is part of what attracted my students to that book, I think that it will be popular in my classroom - my students love to read sort of real-life survival stories, and that's exactly what this was.

Finally, I really loved the cover of the book! I loved the simple black and white with the one pop of color. Those little origami cranes are important in the novel...but I'll let you figure out how!


  1. Hi,

    Thanks for this perceptive review of my novel. If you have a group of kids who've read it and want to chat or ask questions, I'd be happy to do a free Skype visit with them. You can find contact info at www.scbwi-illinois.org/Welch


    1. Sheila,

      That would be wonderful!! I just emailed you at the address I found on your website. Thanks!