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A Friend at Midnight

by Caroline B. Cooney

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16610131,255 (3.35)5
After rescuing her younger brother abandoned at a busy airport by their divorced father, fifteen-year-old Lily finds her faith in God sorely tested as she struggles to rescue herself from the bitterness and anger she feels.

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Reviewed by Me for TeensReadToo.com

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. ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 11, 2009 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
For a novella this is a good book. It had an interesting topic, one that struck me at heart. It reminded me a great deal of my own early teen years and the great anger I had to work out about my own father. With that, it also drug in an angle I hadn't seen, one which makes an interesting point. Under every circumstance, every possible thing that may happen, should one honor thy father? It's amazing what the difference is reading this as an adult.

Sometimes while reading this book I felt lost at times, more often toward the beginning. There was a lack at times for understanding what was going on. For a juvenile book and one written by an author who has published as much as Cooney, I was admittedly a little disappointed about that. Her thoughts weren't always organized enough, and I wonder how well the pre-teens who this book is probably geared toward will comprehend those parts of it. ( )
  Kerian | Jul 23, 2009 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This was a book that immediately caught my attention and held it throughout the entire story. The presentation of how divorce effects different children made clear what is often a very confusing situation. I really liked the family loyalty, the idea of friendship and the proof that moving on is handled differently (and on different time tables) by different members of the same family. I recommend it highly. ( )
  sbeth5 | Jul 23, 2009 |
This is a short, quick read, but nevertheless, it profoundly touched me. An 8-year-old is abandoned at the airport by his father. He calls his 15-year-old sister (who lives with their mom and step-dad) to come and rescue him. It is a story of how the truth needs to be in the light, how hard it is to forgive a horrible wrong, and ultimately love. ***SPOILER*** At the end, I couldn't help but wonder - what if denrose didn't WANT to go camping with Michael. :( The heartbreak of being disowned by one's father is a pain I know all too well, and I couldn't help but fear that the father would again reject his son in the end.
  Suso711 | Feb 12, 2009 |
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For miles, nobody spoke.
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After rescuing her younger brother abandoned at a busy airport by their divorced father, fifteen-year-old Lily finds her faith in God sorely tested as she struggles to rescue herself from the bitterness and anger she feels.

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