Author: Sheila Kelly Welch
Publication Date: October 1, 2011
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.
T.J. and Angela have a horrible home life. Their mother, Celia, is very unstable and is constantly bouncing from one job and relationship to the next. She leaves T.J. in charge of his younger sister when he is barely old enough to look after himself and she is always putting herself and her boyfriends before them.
After leaving the kids with a friend who also leaves the children unattended, Celia loses them to foster care. After a year, she is finally stable enough to get them back. Or so she claims. We follow Celia, T.J. and Angela for the next few years as Celia makes one mistake after another until she eventually abandons them altogether. T.J. and Angela are then put in foster care and eventually adopted.
The story takes place as T.J. waits in the emergency room waiting room after Angela has a fall and is knocked unconscious. It alternates between then, now and between then and now. We learn how they ended up in the ER and how they got placed into an adoption.
Have you ever read a book where you just wanted to jump into the story and beat the crap out of one of the characters? This is one of those books. I really hated Celia. Really, really hated. I don't like bad mothers. I don't like bad mothers who put men before their children and who dismiss bad behavior towards their children because they don't want to be alone or don't want to work. Celia is that kind of mother. She constantly leaves the kids home alone, she lies, she hits Angela and she doesn't seem to care that her boyfriend is physically and emotionally abusive. I just wanted to jump through this book and smack her across the face.
T.J. is such a sweet boy. He loves his sister, Angela, even though she is a mouthy brat. I really didn't like her character much either. She came off as quite a spoiled brat and I didn't connect with her at all. T.J., on the other hand, I completely connected with. He felt a responsibility to his mother to go along with whatever she said or wanted because he was so desperate for her love and approval. I felt so sad for him. He did everything she asked of him and more.
I don't feel like enough time was spent on the relationship between T.J., Angel and the adoptive parents. I didn't connect with them either because we simply didn't hear or learn too much about them. This book was less than 180 pages and I really would have loved more time with these characters.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I really liked T.J. and felt very sorry for him having to try and be so brave and strong for his sister. Like I said before, more time with the characters would have definitely added something to the story. I would have liked more "now" time or even to know how everything went after this incident. I feel like something was missing.
I recommend this to anyone who is looking for a quick, yet enjoyable read without having to invest too much time into the characters. I will definitely be reading more from this author :)