Hawes, Louise. Waiting for Christopher. Candlewick Press, 2002. ISBN 0763613711. $15.99 224 pp. Reviewer: Janet Francis Reading Level: Young adult; Rating: Excellent Genre: Contemporary realistic fiction; Subject: Parenting--Juvenile fiction; Child abuse--Juvenile fiction; Abandoned children--Juvenile fiction; Book--Reviews; The crib death of Feen’s beloved baby brother when she was four years old prepares the way for her rescue of another Christopher when she sees him repeatedly abused by his mother in a parking lot seven years later. Devastated by her baby’s death, her own feelings of guilt and her subsequent divorce, Feen’s mother has retreated into a world of work for bare subsistence, soap operas, and alcohol. Feen’s life is school and take-out meals and painful sympathy for her mother whom she can’t reach. Confronted by the baby who has no one either, and overcome with the immediacy of his need, Feen steals him and sets out in an odyssey of impossibility. A girl Feen has long admired from a distance becomes involved and much to Feen’s surprise shares her desire and determination to keep Christopher. The conflict and building relationship between the two totally different girls makes a framework for the events of the book and when Feen finally returns Christopher to his mother even her hopeful prognostications for the future collapse in maturing pain. Feen and Raylene have lost a baby and found a friend, but the price is high. Carefully written with knowledge of the young adult (and not so adult) psyche, this is a thoughtful treatment of altogether too prevalent lifestyles and their effect on young hearts. Well worth having.
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