Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Book Review Club - Waiting to Forget

Waiting to Forget
Sheila Kelly Welch
middle grade

Because of the age of the protagonist, I've tagged this as middle grade, as did the publisher, namelos; however, it seems wise and fair to point out that this is the story of a current day child-survivor of abuse and neglect. This isn't a light read. It's tough. It's a great book for talking through and exploring emotions, but I wouldn't send a child off to read this alone.

Basic plot: T.J.'s little sister, Angela, fell from the second story balcony into the entryway of their new adopted parent's home. While T.J. waits at the hospital to find out if his sister will be all right, he tells their story in flashback. It's a heartrending account of a mother who neglects her children, has a string of boyfriends, some nice and some less than nice, that ultimately lead her to abandoning her kids to follow her man, who has abused the children. The children then cycle through various foster homes until they're adopted. The transition to a new home is difficult, wrought with feelings of guilt and distrust and the fear of loving anyone again.

The story alternates between present tense for the here and now and past for the story leading up to the hospital. For a young reader, changing tense can be confusing. Yet another aspect of the story that makes it well-suited for group reading and discussion.

As I was reading this book, I asked myself many times "what's the point" of a story of this nature. I'll readily admit, I'm sometimes a bit slow in getting it when it comes to gritty fiction about scarring abuse for a young audience. I faced a similar paradox with the aspect of double dead parents in my own middle grade, Dragon Wishes. For me, the theme felt too heavy as a stand alone. Thus I added a second story to the first, a fantasy, that broke up the heaviness of the main, present day story, while intertwining with it to push plot forward. That was my personal choice because the topic, death of both parents, just felt too heavy all by itself for a young audience. In Waiting to Forget, there is no break from reality. The distant past is painful, the recent past is jumbled and painful, and the present is scary painful. Angela may die.

Is this a story worth telling? Absolutely. However, it's probably one that's best read and shared together for the story to have its true effect, i.e. helping children either to cope with abuse in their lives or to understand abuse and its effects on their peers.

For other great reads, hop on over to Barrie Summy's site. They're in full bloom!


Barrie said...

Thank you for this review, Stacy. I'll heed your warning about not sending my child #4 off to read it on her own.

Ellen Booraem said...

I often wonder whether changing tenses is too confusing for young readers. Although I also wonder if they even notice. I've done it twice now, second time in the WIP. Jury's still out.

This sounds like a fascinating book, well worth reading. Thanks for the review!

Linda McLaughlin said...

This sounds like a tough book to read, but unfortunately, the theme is all too realistic. Thanks for thoughtful review.

Sarahlynn said...

But do we get to find out if Angela's OK? Because for some reason I really need to know that. (Since the novel is MG, I hope and assume that she will be OK, and there is, therefore, a message of hope at the end.)

Sarah Laurence said...

Wow, that does sound like a tough but good read (with a great title). It was a good choice of yours to include a warning to parents to read along. I made a point of reading along with my kids in those middle grade years just to get a sense of where they were.

As for fantasy novels, it's quite common to kill off at least one parent to allow the kids freedom to explore a new world.

And speaking of dark middle grade, Lemony Snicket killed off both parents too and that was only the beginning of the neglect and suffering. As a parent, I found those books too disturbing but my daughter loved them. Maybe it was because they didn't feel real. A book like this one would hit closer to home.

Gabriele Goldstone said...

Remember me? I remember reading your book, Stacy, and I liked how you had the 2 stories interwoven. But it must have been a challenge to write. I've sometimes played with the 2 narrative idea, but keep giving up.

Thanks for the review. I'll watch for this book at my local indie.

Sheila said...


Thanks so much for reading and reviewing my novel in such a thoughtful manner, Stacy.

It's interesting how a high level of violence and death is accepted in fantasy but often is questioned in realistic fiction. I thought about that as I wrote the book, and during the revision process, I did soften parts of the story and place some of the events "off screen." But I do think kid readers can handle more than we realize, and I'm glad you didn't decide the book was inappropriate for middle grade students. A class of sixth graders is reading it now and (via Skype) asking great questions.

Thanks to all of you who made comments! Barrie, it might be a good book to read with child #4. Ellen, I used labels (then, now, between then and now)to help readers keep track. Linda,four of our six kids who were adopted joined our family when they were between 7 and 12 years old. Before we met them, the two youngest ones went through a lot worse than my fictional characters. Sarahlynn, I am tempted to say, "read the book," but will say that it has a hopeful ending! Sarah, I loved talking about books we'd read when my kids were young, and they often surprised me with their ability to understand and have empathy for characters. Gabriele, the book is available on line but you can ask your local indie to order it for you.

Thanks again! I will have to check out your books now.

Stacy Nyikos said...

Thanks, everyone, for the very thoughtful comments. I personally really enjoy the fact that books, such as this one, make me question what literature can do, should do, could do, and whether coulda, woulda, shoulda has any place with reviewing the merits of books. Getting outside the boundaries I'm used to helps me improve myself and my writing.

Resep Masakan said...

"Resep Kue Kering -
Resep Kue Nastar -
Resep Tumis Kangkung -
Resep Pempek Palembang/Kapal Selam -
Resep Kue Basah -
Resep Sambal

Resep Masakan said...

Resep Kue Kering -
Resep Kue Nastar -
Resep Tumis Kangkung -
Resep Pempek Palembang/Kapal Selam -
Resep Kue Basah -
Resep Sambal