Friday, January 05, 2007

A Friend at Midnight

Cooney, Caroline B. A Friend At Midnight.

Caroline B. Cooney is certainly a prolific author, although not as predictable as other authors. You know how some authors you can just trust to write just the way you like with every single book they publish. Sarah Dessen for example. Her YA books are all extemely well written. With Caroline B. Cooney, however, each one is a risk. I really enjoyed her novel Hit the Road. And I loved Goddess of Yesterday. It seems she writes in at least three or four different genres and even more diverse writing styles. There’s nothing predictable about her style. With A FRIEND AT MIDNIGHT, her second 2006 release, I was hoping to find another great novel. What I found was an average one.

Don’t get me wrong, A Friend at Midnight is certainly not a bad novel. It doesn’t come close to being a bad novel. But it lacks, in my opinion, a certain something to make it a great novel. Hit the Road was funny and heartwarming at the same time. It kept you reading. It was just enjoyable cover to cover. A Friend at Midnight is very different. It is a darker book. A more emotionally turbulent book. A teen girl, Lily, is still making adjustments to living life with her mother, step-father, and new baby brother when her father abandons her younger brother, Michael, at the airport. (I believe he’s around 10). No money. No baggage. No telephone call. Michael calls home and Lily gets the surprise of her life. It falls on her young shoulders to find a way to get Michael home safely. You might be thinking why didn’t they just call the police...that is Lily’s instict too...but Michael is insistent that no one--no adults--be told the truth. Now Lily and Michael are living a lie. The novel deals with how both of them react to the abandonment and rejection of their father. Michael still fantasizes about a perfect father who loves him and will always be there for him. Lily never wants to see him or hear from him again. But what happens when Lily’s older sister insists on a reconciliation just in time for her walk down the aisle?

A Friend at Midnight is an angry, dark examination of what it is like to grow up in chaotic dysfuction.

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