Waiting for Christopher

( 3 )


  • New York Public Library Best Book for the Teen Age
  • Girls' Life Magazine, Ten Best Summer Reads
  • Featured in Teen Discussion Groups @ the Library

".flowing prose and vivid characterization.Hawes deliverers a rewarding read."

-Publishers Weekly

".behind the kidnapping drama, Hawes' eloquent words reveal complex truths of family love and ...

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Waiting for Christopher

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  • New York Public Library Best Book for the Teen Age
  • Girls' Life Magazine, Ten Best Summer Reads
  • Featured in Teen Discussion Groups @ the Library

".flowing prose and vivid characterization.Hawes deliverers a rewarding read."

-Publishers Weekly

".behind the kidnapping drama, Hawes' eloquent words reveal complex truths of family love and sorrow."


"Hawes is excellent on the day-to-day difficulties of caring for a toddler, especially in secret."

-Washington Post

"Hawes deals poignantly with loss and longing in a novel that is full of disappointment and heartbreak but that in the end offers hope."

-The Horn Book

Shortly after moving with her mother to Florida, a lonely, fourteen-year-old bibliophile is reminded of her infant brother who died and decides to care for an abused, abandoned child with help from a new friend.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hawes (Rosey in the Present Tense) opens this affecting and honest novel with the loss of a baby brother, Christy, to SIDS, described from the point of view of a four-year-old girl. Feena, now 14, has recently moved from Connecticut to Florida with her divorced mother, a soap opera addict. The lonely, bookish Feena repeatedly witnesses the abuse of a toddler, also named Christopher, in the amusement park adjacent to her home. When the mother seemingly abandons the child, Feena takes him and secretly cares for him. As implausible as this story line may be, Hawes tells it with heart. Feena is a painfully believable character, as is her surprising new friend and co-conspirator, Raylene. Hawes's flowing prose and vivid characterization of the popular and seemingly unapproachable Raylene (she moves like an "African goddess" and "[speaks] sparingly in class, but with a tongue of fire in the halls") carry the novel to its complicated end. When Feena returns Christopher to his mother, it is only after confronting her own capacity for violence. Skillfully interweaving Raylene's story, Feena's past and present experiences, and their literary heroines, Hawes delivers a rewarding read. Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
I enjoyed reading this book because it kept me hanging on every word with its suspense and adventure. Hawes does a good job of developing her confused and sad characters and their emotions. The references to Jane Eyre made me want to read it after I was done with this book. I think teenage girls who like intense, realistic fiction would enjoy this book most. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2002, Candlewick, 224p,
— Kristen Moreland, Teen Reviewer
Children's Literature
For Feena Harvey, it all comes down to doing the wrong thing for the right reason. Feena has spent most of her life enjoying the company of books rather than people, and having skipped a grade in school left her open for a lot of teasing and loneliness. At the start of a new school year in Florida, hundreds of miles from her former home in Connecticut, she is convinced that she's going to spend her year with very few friends and a well-worn copy of Jane Eyre. All that changes when she sees a blond toddler being abused by his mother for the second time in less than a week. When the mother turns her back, Feena takes the little boy. She hides him from her mother and even finds another person to help her take care of Christy. Raylene is strong and sure of herself, everything Feena isn't, and uncovers Feena's secret by accident. Together, they conspire to hide Christy until guilt overcomes Feena and she knows she must return Christy to his home, unhappy as it is. Throughout the book, loss is a prominent theme, beginning with a prologue in which Feena finds out that her younger brother has died. Although she tries to fill the holes in her life with books, they are not enough to make up for an absent father and distant mother. An unsatisfying ending fits Feena's life of loss perfectly, but is frustrating to the reader. 2002, Candlewick Press,
— Carlie Kraft
Feena and her mother recently moved from Connecticut to Florida, trying to make a fresh start in life, but pasty, red-haired 14-year-old Feena still feels like a "social outcast." Lonely and bookish, she spends much of her time reading, wishing she were like beautiful, confident, popular Raylene, "who moved like an African goddess" through the crowds in their high school cafeteria. One day when Feena looks up from her book, to her dismay she spies an angry mother at the amusement park next door hitting her small blond toddler. Weeks later, she sees the pair again, and when the mother kicks the crying child and then goes off, Feena comes to comfort him. Perhaps it's because she has heard the mother call him Christopher, the name of Feena's baby brother who died as an infant, or perhaps it's her loneliness and need for love, but Feena feels that she is the child's savior rather than his kidnapper as she takes him away and hides him. Buying diapers, she runs into Raylene, who quickly figures out what's going on—and surprisingly, comes to Feena's aid. Together, the two girls manage to conceal and care for Christopher for weeks. Feena's curiosity about Christopher's mother leads to a meeting with her, however, and Feena learns that the mother is a victim of abuse herself, and that she is only waiting for Christopher's return to make a new life for herself. Can Feena empathize, and can she bear to return Christopher? This is a rather sad and disturbing book, with its depictions of abuse, and it ends on an ambiguous note as far as Christopher is concerned. Feena, however, breaks through her loneliness and isolation and connects with her mother once again as well as forging a friendship withRaylene. Hawes, the author of the affecting Rosey in the Present Tense, succeeds in making it emotionally convincing and suspenseful. Category: Hardcover Fiction. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2002, Candlewick, 240p., $15.99. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick; KLIATT SOURCE: KLIATT, March 2002 (Vol. 36, No. 2)
School Library Journal
Gr 7-9-Feena Harvey's life changes dramatically when her baby brother, Christy, falls victim to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Not only does the 14-year-old grieve for the baby, but also for additional losses in her life: her father leaves the family, she and her mother move to Florida, and her mother retreats into alcohol and soap operas. One day the girl watches a toddler being abused both physically and verbally. When his mother follows through on a threat to abandon him, Feena rushes in and comforts him, taking him with her. Is she a rescuer or a kidnapper? With the help of a girl from school, she hides him in an abandoned structure and the teens alternate skipping school to care for Christy for nearly three weeks. Finally she goes to the trailer court where Christy's mother, Delores, resides and learns of the cycle of abuse that is her life. Feena realizes, however, that the child loves his mother, and makes a disturbing agreement with her: she'll return him and not report anything to the social-service authorities, as long as Delores doesn't go to the police. When Feena returns to the trailer park to visit, she discovers that Delores and Christy have left. This novel deals poignantly with grief, loss, and the healing process. Feena's solitude and loneliness are nearly palpable; her impulsive act understandable. Hawes's writing is distinctive, with many wonderful turns of phrase and beautiful images. Her main characters are memorable and well developed, which helps avoid the novel's falling into the melodramatic that it hovers over precariously. Readers will feel empathy for Feena and for Christy. Perhaps that's why one must worry about his future.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The author bases this latest on a premise so unlikely it is almost laughable, yet the characters involved are worth caring about. When Feena was four, her beloved baby brother Christopher died of SIDS. Now ten years later, Feena's father is gone and her mother has moved the two of them to Florida for a fresh start. Things are pretty bleak: a hot, cramped house wedged between the highway and a rundown kiddie amusement park. There, Feena sees a mother hitting and insulting her toddler on several occasions. While the abuse is not horrific by current standards, the coldness and cruelty of this mother are clear. Feena is struck not only by the awful treatment of the toddler, but also by his name: Christopher, the same as her dead brother. The last straw comes when Feena witnesses the mother leaving Christopher in the parking lot and driving away. She rescues (kidnaps?) Christy and decides to hide him. Very soon it becomes clear that Feena is in over her head. She has no money, no place to hide him, and she's supposed to be in school. Added to the dubious nature of the plot, the most popular girl in school finds out about him and is immediately drawn to saving him, too. The girls succeed for a few weeks but the situation becomes too much for them, and Feena returns the little boy to his mother in spite of what they know. Feena plans to keep in touch with the mother in an effort to prevent future abuse, but when she returns for her first visit, Christy and his family are gone. The girls struggle with many issues around Christy's kidnapping and disappearance. They wonder if they are justified in breaking the law to save a child, and why the law hasn't protected him before. They wonder what kindof life he will have and where his mother has taken him. Both girls are complex characters, well drawn and sympathetic. What this lacks in realism, it makes up for in character development and "issue raising" and would be great for classroom discussion in a junior-high language arts class. (Fiction. 12-15)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780595390823
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/12/2006
  • Pages: 244
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Louise Hawes is the author of more than fifteen books for readers of all ages. Her work has earned awards from the Young Adults Library Association, the Children’s Book Council, the NY City Public Library, the Independent Booksellers’ Association, the NJ Council on the Arts, Bank Street College, the International Reading Association, and many others. She has lectured and taught at colleges and conferences nationwide, and is a faculty member of the Vermont College MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program. She lives in North Carolina, and you can learn more about her books and teaching at: www.louisehawes.com.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2007

    OMG!!!!!!!!!!! AWESOME BOOK!!!!!!!!!!

    its an amazing book it kept me hooked its jst soo cool how she took care of christopher

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2002

    Challenging and Joyful

    Hawes achieves the perfect balance in her writing, while throwing the reader off theirs. Waiting for Christopher is moving but not overly sentimental. Heartrending but joyful. Promising but realistic. This is a novel about child abuse in all its complexities. Feena, an intelligent 14 year-old, struggles with her invisibility at home and in school. This condition forces her to make a decision on her own when observing a woman hitting her two year-old son. However, Feena?s invisibility also empowers her to take the situation into her own hands. She takes Christopher into hiding but soon finds she needs help. An unlikely ally appears in the form of the most popular girl at school. Together they need to decide how to take care of Christy in the short run and what to do with the child and each other in the long run. This is a hardhitting novel that deals with the fuzzy lines of abuse and neglect, race, and family. Waiting for Christopher forces us to question how we make judgments about intervention, each other, and forgiveness.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2002



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