A Friend at Midnight

A Friend at Midnight

by Caroline B. Cooney

Paperback(Reprint)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385733274
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 08/12/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 1,311,003
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Caroline B. Cooney is the bestselling and award-winning author of numerous books for young people. The author lives in Westbrook, CT and New York City.


From the Hardcover edition.

Read an Excerpt

* chapter 1


For miles, nobody spoke.

Then the driver stopped right in the road and said, "Get out of the car."

Michael's fingers struggled with the latch of his seat belt. The driver reached over with such irritation Michael expected a slap, but the driver just released Michael's seat belt. It was gray and shiny and slid away like a snake.

The car door was heavy. Michael opened it with difficulty and climbed out onto the pavement. The passenger drop-off made a long dark curve under the overhang of the immense airport terminal. Glass doors stretched as far as Michael could see. Men and women pulled suitcases on wheels and struggled with swollen duffel bags. They hefted briefcases and slung the padded straps of laptop carriers over their shoulders. The glass doors opened automatically for them and the airport swallowed them.

"Shut the door, Michael," said the driver.

Michael stared into the car. He could not think very clearly. The person behind the wheel seemed to melt and re-form. "You're not coming?" Michael whispered.

The driver answered, and Michael heard the answer. But he knew right away that he must not think about it. The shape and contour of those syllables were a map of some terrible unknown country. A place he didn't want to go.

"Shut the door," repeated the driver.

But Michael could neither move nor speak.

Again the driver leaned forcefully over the passenger seat where Michael had sat. Michael backed up, the heels of his sneakers hitting the curb. The driver yanked the door shut and the car began leaving before the driver had fully straightened up behind the wheel.

Michael stared at the back of the car, at its trunk and license plate, and immediately his view was blocked by a huge tour bus with a red and gold logo. Passengers poured out of the bus, encircling Michael, talking loudly in a language he did not know.

The bus driver opened low folding doors covering the cargo hatch and flung luggage onto the sidewalk. Bus passengers swarmed around the suitcases. Michael watched as if it were television. When all the luggage had been distributed, the driver folded the doors back, leaped into his bus and drove off.

Michael could see down the road again, but the car that had dropped him off was long gone. airport exit, said the sign above the road.

Three cars drove up next to his feet. Families got out. People kissed good-bye. They vanished into the maw of the airport. Another bus arrived, all its passengers either old ladies carrying big purses or old men carrying canes and newspapers.

Michael felt eyes on him. Not bus people eyes, because the bus people were too busy making little cries of pleasure as they spotted their suitcases.

He didn't have to look to know they were police eyes focused on him. He was not going to tell the police. Not now, not ever.

Michael eased into a knot of bus people, resting his hand on the edge of an immense suitcase towed by a fat chatty lady. Another even fatter lady towed an even larger suitcase. Wherever they were going, they could hardly wait to get there. The ladies hauled their suitcases into the terminal. Michael went with them. The women never noticed him, but surged forward into a ladies' room. Michael stood in the midst of a vast open area. Hundreds of passengers hurried by, separating on either side of him as if he were a rock in a river. They gave him no more attention than they would have given to such a rock.

Michael threaded his way down the concourse until he came to flight monitors high on the wall. Michael was not a good reader. Charts, like the departure and arrival lists on these screens, were difficult for him. Craning his neck and squinting, he struggled to interpret the information. There were several flights to LaGuardia. He counted six in the next two hours. He hung on to this information, as if it might be useful.

Michael was wearing new jeans. It was too hot for jeans, but he had been told to put them on. The crisp pant legs were rough against his skin. His T-shirt, though, was old and soft. It had been his sister Lily's, and he had filched it from her to use as packing around a fragile possession. He had been wearing it lately, even though it came to his knees.

He felt those eyes again. He walked into the men's room to get away from the stare. It was packed. So many men. Fathers, probably, or grandfathers or stepfathers or godfathers. He closed himself in a stall, but the toilet was flushing by itself, over and over, as if it intended to drown him, and he fled from the wet sick smell of the place.

Back in the open space, Michael distracted himself by looking everywhere, even up. The ceilings were very high, with exposed girders in endless triangles that looked like art. He had been in this airport once before and had imagined swinging from those girders, leaping from one to the next, sure of his footing. Michael was not sure of anything right now, not even the bottoms of his feet.

He sat on a black bench that had curled edges, like a licorice stick. Ticket counters stretched in both directions: American, Southwest, Continental, Frontier, Delta. People stood in long slow lines that zigzagged back and forth, separated by blue sashes strung between chrome stands.

Maybe I just didn't understand, he thought. Maybe the car just went to park. Maybe if I go back outside . . .

He felt better. He went back outside.

Taxis and hotel limousines and vans from distant parking lots were driving up. Wheeled suitcases bumped over the tiled sidewalk as loudly as guns shooting. Clumps of people stumbled against him and moved on. New buses took the place of the last set, and their exhausts were black and clotted in his lungs.

The terrible words the driver had flung at Michael had been lying on that sidewalk, waiting for him to come back, and now the words jumped up and began yelling at him.


From the Hardcover edition.

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A Friend at Midnight 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
JRlibrary on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The first five chapters of this book are absolutely thrilling. The book begins with an 8 year old boy being dropped off at an airport without food, money, an airplane ticket or an adult. The reader finds out later that his father just decided that Michael was not "the son I had in mind" so the dad just abandons him at an airport and drives away. The description of the airport, seen through the eyes of an eight year old, is perfect. I could completely feel Michael's bewilderment and anxiety. He eventually phones his sister, Lily, who lives with their mom and stepfather. Lily finds a way to get to where Michael is, and rescues him, while towing two year old Nathaniel in her wake. Michael makes Lily swear not to reveal any of the actions of the father, and she doesn't. For me, the book went downhill from there, since there were multiple references to Jesus, and Lily's communications with God, at whom she is quite angry. Bringing God into the story just didn't work for me. I've read many other books by the same author, and this is the first one which involves God in the story. Lily is angry at God for allowing such a thing to happen to her little brother, and she has to find a way to deal with her hatred of her father when her older sister announces her upcoming marriage, and insists that their father attend the wedding and walk her down the aisle. I won't spoil it by telling you what happens. It was still an enjoyable read, but I'd have appreciated it a lot more without the author's brief excursion into religion.This was my first Early Reviewer book ever, and I was excited to get it in the mail and get started reading. I liked it, but didn't love it.
Wilcoxpat on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The first scene of this story grabs you and holds on tight. Eight-year-old Michael is abandoned at an airport in Baltimore, you are not told who has tossed him away right away, but soon you learn the terrible truth that the culprit is his father. Michael's only hope is a telephone number that his 15-year-old sister, Lily, made him memorize before he left home in New York to live with his father. Michael waits for Lily and his baby brother to fly to Baltimore to get him and return home before his mother and step-father return from taking his oldest sister to college. However, this is Lily's story as she tries to balance her promise to Michael to never tell what his father did, and her growing anger toward her father and the damage done to Michael. Lily tries to figure out where her Christian beliefs fit in with her inability to forgive her father. Matters come to a head a year later when her oldest sister comes home to plan her wedding and wants their father to walk her down the aisle. This story is grounded in a teenager's conflict as she tries to apply her beliefs to the reality of a dysfunctional family. Focus on faith is never heavy handed and the suspense will appeal to most readers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought that this book had potential but wasn't as good as I thought it would be. It was very repetitive. The characters seemed to think and talk about the same thing throughout the whole book and they really didn't do much of anything but think and talk about the same things. It was also very slow to get started and get into the main story. I've definitely read better books and was disappointed by this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hannah Dean More than 1 year ago
It was ok but I didn' t understand
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Novel_Teen_Book_Reviews More than 1 year ago
Lily is watching her baby brother when she gets a call from her other brother, Michael. Their father just dropped eight-year-old Michael off at the airport in Baltimore without money or a plane ticket. Michael begs Lily to help him get home and to keep what Dad did a secret. Lily risks everything to rescue her brother. She can't believe that her dad would abandon his son in such a way. And after everything that Dad said and did to Michael, how can Michael still love him? This book was excellent. Cooney does a masterful job of getting into three sibling's very different views of their parent's divorce. I was drawn into the mystery of what was going on, and then to the characters as they struggled through life and their relationship with their father. I loved how Cooney ended it all. Touching and through-provoking. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Blended families, a deadbeat dad, religion, sibling rivalry, abandonment. These are all issues that Caroline B. Cooney tackles, quite deftly, in A FRIEND AT MIDNIGHT.

When eight-year-old Michael decides to go live with his father, it's a strain on the entire family. His mother pretends as if it's not happening. His stepfather, Kells, attempts to placate his wife. His oldest sister, Reb, doesn't have a lot of time to deal with it, as she's preparing to leave for college. His baby half-brother, Nathaniel, doesn't understand what it means until after the fact. And his fifteen-year-old sister, Lily, knows that it's destined to end badly.

And badly it does end, when dear old dad drops Michael off, alone, without any money, luggage, or a plane ticket, at the airport to go back to his mother. In his father's words: "You're not the son I had in mind." What happens next involves a fraudulently-obtained credit card, a teenager and a toddler on an airplane, a brush with airport security, and a quick trip back home -- all before Mom and Kells arrive back home after dropping Reb off at college.

The next year is filled with changes, for everyone, but especially for Michael and Lily. Younger brother has promised older sister to absolute secrecy, and Lily's finding it harder and harder to keep the matter quiet. No one else knows how horrible their father is; no one knows the terrible thing he did to his youngest child. But Michael refuses to tell the truth; in fact, Michael refuses to hold a grudge against the fathers he loves so much, even though everyone sees that Michael is not the same since he's returned home.

When things come to a boiling point, it will be up to Michael to let the truth be known. It will also be up to the entire family to deal with the resulting fall-out, and with learning what it means to forgive -- and, even more, what it means to really be "a friend at midnight."

Ms. Cooney has written another emotional winner that will have you glued to the pages until the end. This is a sad, heartbreaking tale that still manages to be uplifting, and everyone will find something in it that they can relate to.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you are someone who is offended by large doses of Christian beliefs, this will NOT be the book for you. If you are interested in seeing how faith meets forgiveness in the face of heartache, you will find this book inspiring. When Lily Rosetti has to resourcefully figure out how to pack up her two year old stepbrother and board a plane from New York to Maryland to pick up her younger brother who has been abandoned by their father, she has to ask where is God? Michael Rosetti just wasn¿t the son his father had in mind, and so, without too much thought, the man drops him off at the airport in Baltimore with no money or belongings. It¿s the tale of rejection, misunderstanding, and a stepfather who is more of a father than the biological contributor. Throughout this, Lily¿s loyalty is tested as she tries to keep the story secret because of the promise she has made to Michael, who¿in spite of everything¿keeps hoping that his father will reconsider and love him. This story will resonate with anyone who has experienced the rejection of a parent and the betrayal of family. The story was slow to start, and that made it a little tough to stick with. Once I got past the first couple of chapters it was almost impossible to put down. It¿s a book that I highly recommend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Blended families, a deadbeat dad, religion, sibling rivalry, abandonment. These are all issues that Caroline B. Cooney tackles, quite deftly, in A FRIEND AT MIDNIGHT. When eight-year-old Michael decides to go live with his father, it's a strain on the entire family. His mother pretends as if it's not happening. His stepfather, Kells, attempts to placate his wife. His oldest sister, Reb, doesn't have a lot of time to deal with it, as she's preparing to leave for college. His baby half-brother, Nathaniel, doesn't understand what it means until after the fact. And his fifteen-year-old sister, Lily, knows that it's destined to end badly. And badly it does end, when dear old dad drops Michael off, alone, without any money, luggage, or a plane ticket, at the airport to go back to his mother. In his father's words: 'You're not the son I had in mind.' What happens next involves a fraudulently-obtained credit card, a teenager and a toddler on an airplane, a brush with airport security, and a quick trip back home -- all before Mom and Kells arrive back home after dropping Reb off at college. The next year is filled with changes, for everyone, but especially for Michael and Lily. Younger brother has promised older sister to absolute secrecy, and Lily's finding it harder and harder to keep the matter quiet. No one else knows how horrible their father is no one knows the terrible thing he did to his youngest child. But Michael refuses to tell the truth in fact, Michael refuses to hold a grudge against the fathers he loves so much, even though everyone sees that Michael is not the same since he's returned home. When things come to a boiling point, it will be up to Michael to let the truth be known. It will also be up to the entire family to deal with the resulting fall-out, and with learning what it means to forgive -- and, even more, what it means to really be 'a friend at midnight.' Ms. Cooney has written another emotional winner that will have you glued to the pages until the end. This is a sad, heartbreaking tale that still manages to be uplifting, and everyone will find something in it that they can relate to. **Reviewed by: Jennifer Wardrip, aka 'The Genius'