Waiting to Forget - Sheila Kelly Welch I read this book as part of a package with Hatchet for our reading club. Both are survival stories, yet very, very different. This one is far the more literary and realistic.

As the parent of six adopted children, this book often made me feel like I was looking in a mirror or reliving the past through the eyes of my kids. The frustrating social workers and counselors who just don't get it, the perspective from the children who are sure that "we " don't get it and the impact bad choices of both adoptive and birth parents make on the kids who are caught in the middle.

The story begins in the waiting room of a hospital where Angela, T.J.'s sister, has been taken, unconscious, and presumably suffering from a serious concussion; we're not sure why. The scenes shift between "now", "then", and "in-between" as T.J. looks through his lifebook (a scrapbook of memories prospective adoptive children are urged to create before adoption) and the pictures conjure up memories: his birth mother's problems with responsibility and life, some happy times, many difficult periods, and the protective relationship that T.J. develops for his younger sister. We see everything through the filter of T.J.'s memory: his conflicts within himself, torn between the love for his birth-mother and his loyalty to her and his protectiveness toward his little sister whose difficulty in coping we also view through T.J.'s eyes. Each child develops his own coping mechanisms, Angela's being origami paper cranes that she symbolically links to her desire for a parakeet, but an uncaged one, and that the paper cranes can never die. There are some very vivid and intense scenes that portray the fear and anxiety children must feel.

Among the many very positive reviews are a few who were disappointed by the book's realism. I find that interesting., if anything, the book isn't realistic enough. I guess we all like happy endings; yet we argue, especially in fiction aimed at teens, that what they read should be less gritty, less dark, and, in other words, less real. As someone once noted, we forbid our children to read about the lives they live.

One might argue I'm biased. Well perhaps I am a bit too close to the story, but as I have noted elsewhere, my general policy with regard to books I don't like or which I don't feel are worth reading is not to review them. This book is definitely worth reading.



Considered one of the 2012 Best Books of the Year for ages 9-12 by the Bank Street College of Education. http://www.bnkst.edu/cbc/best-books-year-2012/