04 November 2011

Waiting to Forget - Sheila Kelly Welch

Waiting to Forget
Sheila Welch
Ages: 10 and up
Grades: 4th-8th
Pages: 172

T.J. has always looked out for his little sister, Angela. When Momma used to go out and leave them home alone, he'd lock the door so they'd be safe, keep Angela entertained, and get out the cereal and milk for her. When Momma's boyfriend got angry at them, he'd try to protect Angela. Later, at their foster homes, T.J. was the only one who knew how to coax his little sister out of her bad moods. The only one who understood why she made origami paper cranes and threw them out the window.

But now T.J. is sitting in the waiting room at the hospital, wondering if Angela, unconscious after a fall, will ever wake up. Wondering, too, if he will ever feel at home with his and Angela's new parents—Marlene, who insists on calling him Timothy, and Dan, who seems to want a different son.

Going back and forth between Now and Then, weaving the uncertain present with the painful past, T.J.'s story unfolds, and with the unfolding comes a new understanding of how to move forward.


I finished reading this book in a single day.  It felt like I was witnessing some sort of accident in slow motion, watching events unfold before my eyes and wondering how it all would turn out.  This story held a sort of morbid fascination for me.  As a mother I am always surprised by the depth of love I have for my child.  When she was born I was struck by the realization that I had never really known what love was until that precise moment she was laid in my arms.  Like, the emotion I had foolishly labled love was a cheap imitation, a vague pantomime of feeling that had no real substance. Whenever I read in the news about a child lost or neglected I am drawn into the story...it's like an itch.  I can't stop my morbid curiosity.  I read as tears well up and I grieve for the child, I pray for the parents-I pray and pray that all will be well.  To say that losing my child is my deepest fear is not giving that fear enough weight.  To say that I can not understand how any human being could willingly place their child in harm's way is understatement.  I can not make myself come to understand the selfishness, greed, vanity and carelessness that must be involved when a parent puts their needs before that of their child.

So I find myself drawn to stories of familial dysfunction in a need to find reasons.  Reasons why a parent would choose to abandon their child.  Reasons why a parent would choose to not love.  What is it that makes people tick?   I want to know why a mother would drown her children.  I want to know why a mother would leave her children alone.  I need to understand.  The tragedy needs to make sense for me or else I fear that I will lose any love for humanity that I have left.  Jesus taught us to love each other but how can I love a mother that leaves her baby to die?  How can I love a parent that willingly murders, abandons, hurts...

So I read these stories of loss and despair searching for that intangible something that will put the pieces into place.  I search the stories looking for any thing I can cling to that I could empathize with.  Some little bit that I could justify.  I pray that Jesus will help me along the way.  Help me to see these lost souls through His loving and forgiving eyes.

Waiting to Forget didn't really help me find the answers I seek.  I am beginning to think that some things can not be justified no matter what.  That, senseless acts of violence and neglect happen because people simply allow them to.  Perhaps they are lacking in an essential ingredient to their humanity...their ability to have empathy, their ability to feel anything besides primal hunger.

Waiting to Forget is a simple portrait of lives lived under less than ideal circumstances.  The author deftly avoids the darker aspects of child neglect and I for one am grateful for that.  Some things can not be unread so I am glad that the author treated her characters with a loving hand and by consequence she spares the reader the brunt of terrible acts that can not be undone.  At it's core this story is about the resiliency of the human spirit, of our ability to see hope which is at the core of our humanness.  That trait is God given and enables us to be survivors, it shows us daily the face of God lest we forget that He exists.  Hope is our gift.  We should use it wisely and give it freely.


Sheila Kelly Welch

I began writing and drawing before I started school. In first grade my black crayon was always worn down from making pictures of horses with long manes and flowing tails. In junior high school, I began to think about a career, and I actually wrote in my diary, "Maybe someday I'll make my own children's books, illustrations and all."
When I went to Temple University in Philadelphia, I majored in fine arts and also received a master's degree in education. In the next few years, my husband, Eric, and I began to raise our family. We bought and sold a farm in Minnesota, I taught school, and Eric decided to become a librarian.
Then, in 1981, I had open heart surgery. With my artificial valve ticking away, I knew that if "someday" was ever going to arrive, I'd better get busy. My first short story was published in 1983. Since then my short stories, often accompanied by my illustrations, have appeared in a number of magazines including Cricket, Children's Playmate, Girls' Life, The Friend, Ladybug, Cicada, and Spider. Several of my short stories have been published in language arts textbooks. I've also written and/or illustrated fourteen books for children of various ages.
Now I live in the country near Forreston, Illinois with my husband and a menagerie of pets. We have seven grown-up children and seven grandchildren. I enjoy volunteering at the local animal shelter and visiting nursing homes with my certified therapy dog. Raven and I also participate in the "Paws for Reading" program at the library. Children read aloud to the dogs.

* I received an advance copy from the publisher for purposes of review. I was in no way obligated to write a review much less a favorable one. The opinions stated herein are all my own.


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