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James Heneghan and Bruce McBay
Winner of the Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award, 2005
as a Red Maple Award Honor Book
story is a strange mix of the simple and the haunting... chilling and
parents and sister are dead and his legs are gone. The horrific accident
that shattered his life continues to haunt him. When we grudgingly returns
to school and a life that he no longer understands, Mike is bitter and
unwilling to participate in school life. To avoid one of his classes
and get more time away from his classmates, Mike agrees to put together
a 50th Anniversary history of the school. Looking forward to time alone,
he is annoyed when a young girl shows up in the archives on a regular
basis. Sarah seems too young to be a student in the school, but her
resemblance to Mike's sister and her bubbly personality have him intrigued.
She gradually draws him out of his shell and manages to interest him
in the archives project, and more importantly, in life itself.
"I told you. I don't need anyone..."
"Everyone needs someone. Parents, for instance; everyone needs parents."
"I've got no parents."
"Everyone's got parents." She thought for a second. "Unless you're an orphan."
"I've got work to do. So get lost."
"You're not very nice."
He scowled. "Just because I'm in a wheelchair doesn't mean I've got to be nice."
PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY (September 2003). Both halves of the book (the before
and after of Mikes bone-chilling discovery) will engage
the target audience. Mikes inner torment echoes
familiar questions Why do bad things happen to good people? Why
do children die while evil men live to ripe old age? and his
coming to terms with them is mature and thoughtful. Age 12 and up.
FROM FRANCES BRADBURN, BOOKLIST (September 15, 2003). In the tradition of Cynthia Voigts Izzy Willy Nilly, (1986) and Deborah Froeses, Out of the Fire, (2002) this novel explores what happens when a teenager must adapt to a new, much more limited life, while adding a romantic ghost story to the mix. Mike is realistically angry and unlikable, but readers will easily connect with him as he absorbs Sarahs lessons of survival and courage.
FROM JOANNE PETERS, CM MAGAZINE (Sept. 19, 2003). Highly Recommended, ***1/2 out of 4. Waiting for Sarah is a really unusual work of adolescent fiction. It's not your average teen "problem" story; for the longest time, Mike's disability isolates him from everyone, and his turnaround is slow, with plenty of set-backs. High school life is described with pin-point accuracy; you can hear the whirr of the overhead projector in the history teacher's classroom and feel the boredom of yet another tedious lesson. This is a book which I really believe would appeal equally both to female and male readers; unfortunately, I think that the title would lead most guys to think that the book is a romance. Mike's struggle is portrayed in all of its frustrating reality, and I think that most readers would appreciate the authors' honesty. Early on, deep in self-pity, Mike remembers "the family eating together in the evenings. Rules and arguments about behaviour and chores and the Internet and TV watching. Ordinary lives that were meant to go on in an ordinary way but were now just memories." (p. 18) Ordinary life, memories, mystery, and fate - they're all here in this book. A great choice for senior high school fiction collections. Joanne Peters is a teacher-librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, MB.
FROM LYNNE MARIE PISANO, KLIATT (March, 2004). This moving, chilling tale of a young man's loss and regaining of self-worth proves and excellent and worthwhile example of supernatural literature.
DAVID JENKINSON, UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA. The title and cover art of
Waiting for Sarah might initially be off-putting to boys, but... [T]his
wonderfully deceptive book, set in 1999/2000, initially appears to be
a contemporary problem novel featuring Mike Scott... [but turns out
to be] a problem novel, a fantasy, a murder mystery, and, by the time
they are finished, (gasp!) a love story.