Thursday, March 15, 2012

Review: Waiting To Forget

Today I am reviewing a novel called Waiting To Forget by Sheila Kelly Welch.

In a Nutshell
Twitter summary: "Prognosis: reflective of troubled childhood"
Length: just shy of novel-length
Target Audience: 10-14 years old
Genre: Fictional drama
Swearing: Mild
Violence: Mild
Reflection on past: High

The story follows the reflections of a teenage boy named T.J. (Timothy James) as he waits for news of his sister's emergency surgery in the hospital. Through a life book he created during his time in foster care, he reflects on the experiences that he and his sister went through leading to this present moment.

Initially I thought the writing was simplistic, but this was because it was written from the perspective of TJ. The opening paragraph didn't exactly sell me.  As I summarised: 'gritty kitty sand in the eyes.' Not exactly the greatest of hooks :) The story is written consistently, although I think the characters were a little flat. The mother was a complete waste of space, Billy was evil, Ray was good, the sister was cute and the protagonist was not particularly insightful. The author used a few good ploys to keep the story interesting: How did Angela get injured? How did their mother die? Who is the protagonist? It worked for the most part and kept me reading through the less-compelling points.

The life book is a nice tool for framing the story, the book is competently written, Angela is likeable, the angelese words she uses are cute, deals with abusive family environments (I will explain later)

TJ is not particularly interesting, the mother is thoroughly unlikeable, the punches are pulled (especially with Billy), the symbology is a little crude, TJ's turning point seems a little abrupt.

I think the first third of the book was written well, although it started to move into 'Hollywood territory,' with unnecessary turmoil and a heist (yes, really). If the story had remained focused on TJ's reflection of his life and love for his sister, it would have had a far greater emotional weight. Even with the 'Hollywood effect' in place, it maintains an even keel. The highs and lows never quite reach a point where the reader becomes emotionally invested. Considering the relatively young intended audience, this is fine. It is sufficiently dramatic for someone of that age and covers a number of important issues, such as single-parent families, child abuse, foster programs and the responsibilities and failings of parents.

A book such as this teaches a child consideration of others different or less fortunate or, if they are in an abusive environment, to speak up and not accept an unacceptable situation as normal. For the important issues that are covered and the highly-specific intended audience, I recommend this.