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A Friend at Midnight [Hardcover]

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Item description for A Friend at Midnight by Caroline B. Cooney...

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.

Publishers Description
Lily has settled into life in Connecticut after her parent's divorce but it's been harder on her eight-year-old brother Michael. After their mother remarries, her brother chooses to go live with his father in Washington, D.C., until the day he calls home from the Baltimore-Washington Airport where his father has abandoned him.

Lily is home babysitting her baby stepbrother when she answers the phone. She has no idea the extent to which her faith in God will be tested. There is no choice for Lily. She will rescue Michael, but will she be able to rescue herself from the bitterness and anger she feels?
"A Friend at Midnight is the BEST teen novel I've read. Lily and her quirky family totally won my heart–they made me laugh and cry and ponder. Brimming with realistic characters, unexpected twists and heartwarming redemptions, this is a superior read!"

--Melody Carlson, award-winning author of more than 100 books including her new teen series Notes from a Spinning Planet
Caroline B. Cooney is the bestselling and award-winning author of numerous books for young people. The author lives in Westbrook, CT and New York City.
* chapter 1

For miles, nobody spoke.

Then the driver stopped right in the road and said, "Get out of the car."

Michael's fingers struggled with the latch of his seat belt. The driver reached over with such irritation Michael expected a slap, but the driver just released Michael's seat belt. It was gray and shiny and slid away like a snake.

The car door was heavy. Michael opened it with difficulty and climbed out onto the pavement. The passenger drop-off made a long dark curve under the overhang of the immense airport terminal. Glass doors stretched as far as Michael could see. Men and women pulled suitcases on wheels and struggled with swollen duffel bags. They hefted briefcases and slung the padded straps of laptop carriers over their shoulders. The glass doors opened automatically for them and the airport swallowed them.

"Shut the door, Michael," said the driver.

Michael stared into the car. He could not think very clearly. The person behind the wheel seemed to melt and re-form. "You're not coming?" Michael whispered.

The driver answered, and Michael heard the answer. But he knew right away that he must not think about it. The shape and contour of those syllables were a map of some terrible unknown country. A place he didn't want to go.

"Shut the door," repeated the driver.

But Michael could neither move nor speak.

Again the driver leaned forcefully over the passenger seat where Michael had sat. Michael backed up, the heels of his sneakers hitting the curb. The driver yanked the door shut and the car began leaving before the driver had fully straightened up behind the wheel.

Michael stared at the back of the car, at its trunk and license plate, and immediately his view was blocked by a huge tour bus with a red and gold logo. Passengers poured out of the bus, encircling Michael, talking loudly in a language he did not know.

The bus driver opened low folding doors covering the cargo hatch and flung luggage onto the sidewalk. Bus passengers swarmed around the suitcases. Michael watched as if it were television. When all the luggage had been distributed, the driver folded the doors back, leaped into his bus and drove off.

Michael could see down the road again, but the car that had dropped him off was long gone. airport exit, said the sign above the road.

Three cars drove up next to his feet. Families got out. People kissed good-bye. They vanished into the maw of the airport. Another bus arrived, all its passengers either old ladies carrying big purses or old men carrying canes and newspapers.

Michael felt eyes on him. Not bus people eyes, because the bus people were too busy making little cries of pleasure as they spotted their suitcases.

He didn't have to look to know they were police eyes focused on him. He was not going to tell the police. Not now, not ever.

Michael eased into a knot of bus people, resting his hand on the edge of an immense suitcase towed by a fat chatty lady. Another even fatter lady towed an even larger suitcase. Wherever they were going, they could hardly wait to get there. The ladies hauled their suitcases into the terminal. Michael went with them. The women never noticed him, but surged forward into a ladies' room. Michael stood in the midst of a vast open area. Hundreds of passengers hurried by, separating on either side of him as if he were a rock in a river. They gave him no more attention than they would have given to such a rock.

Michael threaded his way down the concourse until he came to flight monitors high on the wall. Michael was not a good reader. Charts, like the departure and arrival lists on these screens, were difficult for him. Craning his neck and squinting, he struggled to interpret the information. There were several flights to LaGuardia. He counted six in the next two hours. He hung on to this information, as if it might be useful.

Michael was wearing new jeans. It was too hot for jeans, but he had been told to put them on. The crisp pant legs were rough against his skin. His T-shirt, though, was old and soft. It had been his sister Lily's, and he had filched it from her to use as packing around a fragile possession. He had been wearing it lately, even though it came to his knees.

He felt those eyes again. He walked into the men's room to get away from the stare. It was packed. So many men. Fathers, probably, or grandfathers or stepfathers or godfathers. He closed himself in a stall, but the toilet was flushing by itself, over and over, as if it intended to drown him, and he fled from the wet sick smell of the place.

Back in the open space, Michael distracted himself by looking everywhere, even up. The ceilings were very high, with exposed girders in endless triangles that looked like art. He had been in this airport once before and had imagined swinging from those girders, leaping from one to the next, sure of his footing. Michael was not sure of anything right now, not even the bottoms of his feet.

He sat on a black bench that had curled edges, like a licorice stick. Ticket counters stretched in both directions: American, Southwest, Continental, Frontier, Delta. People stood in long slow lines that zigzagged back and forth, separated by blue sashes strung between chrome stands.

Maybe I just didn't understand, he thought. Maybe the car just went to park. Maybe if I go back outside . . .

He felt better. He went back outside.

Taxis and hotel limousines and vans from distant parking lots were driving up. Wheeled suitcases bumped over the tiled sidewalk as loudly as guns shooting. Clumps of people stumbled against him and moved on. New buses took the place of the last set, and their exhausts were black and clotted in his lungs.

The terrible words the driver had flung at Michael had been lying on that sidewalk, waiting for him to come back, and now the words jumped up and began yelling at him.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages   160
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 5.75" Height: 8.5"
Weight:   0.75 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Oct 10, 2006
Publisher   Delacorte Books for Young Readers
ISBN  0385733267  
ISBN13  9780385733267  

Availability  0 units.

More About Caroline B. Cooney

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! CAROLINE B. COONEY is the bestselling author of more than 30 young adult books, including the million-copy plus bestseller, The Face on the Milk Carton.

Caroline B. Cooney currently resides in Westbrook, in the state of Connecticut.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Children > Issues > Divorce
2Books > Subjects > Children > People & Places > Family Life > General
3Books > Subjects > Children > People & Places > Family Life > Marriage & Divorce > Fiction
4Books > Subjects > Children > People & Places > Social Situations > Emotions & Feelings > Fiction
5Books > Subjects > Children > Religions > Fiction > Fiction
6Books > Subjects > Teens > Authors, A-Z > ( C ) > Cooney, Caroline B.

Reviews - What do customers think about A Friend at Midnight?

Good realistic story  Feb 2, 2007
Have you ever read The Face on the Milk Carton? The book A Friend at Midnight was written by the same author, Caroline B. Cooney. This fiction novel is 183 pages long. It was published by Delacorte Press in 2006. The main characters are Lily Rosetti and her brother Michael. Lily finds her faith in God tested as she struggles to rescue herself from all the anger and bitterness she feels towards her father.
Lily's parents are divorced and when her mother remarries and has a baby she copes with it. Her little brother Michael feels differently about it though and decides he wants to live with his dad. His dad, however, doesn't like the idea of having a son when he sees the responsibility that comes with taking care of a child and abandons him at the airport. Lily comes and picks her brother up and never tells anyone about why her brother suddenly came back home. She has all these angry and bitter feelings towards her dad and when her older sister, Rebecca, decides to get married and says she's going to invite him to the wedding she has to face what happened in the past and try to forgive her father.
One good thing about this book is that it's never boring. You want to keep reading and see what happens. It starts right away with Michael being abandoned and I like books that start out with action. Another thing I enjoyed about the book is that the book is about her faith being tested and her relationship with God. I think what Caroline B. Cooney writes about is relevant to real life because a lot of girls go through tough times and have struggles and at times have their faith tested.
I think that the book was really good and that it portrays the strength of a person in times of crisis and the resiliency of the human spirit. I would definitely recommend reading this book.
A realistic look at how the repercussions of a life-changing event can affect a family  Jan 4, 2007
Fifteen-year-old Lily Rosetti has had many ups and downs in the past few years: her parents' divorce, her mother remarrying, and then the arrival of her little brother Nathaniel. While these events would be difficult for anyone to adjust to, Lily has learned to cope and has settled comfortably into a new routine with her blended family. Unfortunately, this has not been the case for her younger brother Michael, who feels left out and has to share a room with the noisy, messy Nathaniel.

Then, much to his family's dismay, Michael decides he wants to go live with his father. Given his determination, Lily's family has no choice but to let the eight-year-old go.

Two weeks later, Lily receives a phone call from Michael, who has been abandoned by his father and left at the Baltimore-Washington Airport with no means of returning home. Since she is taking care of Nathaniel while her family helps her older sister Rebecca move into her college dorm, Lily is forced to secretly buy a ticket and, along with Nathaniel, take a four-hour flight that will bring her to her frightened younger brother.

Reluctantly, on Michael's insistence (and later to try to shield her brother from being a target of unfair scrutiny), Lily decides not to tell the rest of the family yet about the real reason for Michael's surprise return nor the events leading up to the abrupt abandonment.

However, keeping such an important secret will not be easy, and Lily is thrown onto an emotional rollercoaster that will test her religious faith.

A FRIEND AT MIDNIGHT presents Lily's and Michael's, and sometimes Nathaniel's, emotions quite well. However, there were a couple of things that bothered me about the story: the stepfather seems to show more genuine concern about Michael's return and his well-being than his mother and Rebecca do, and there is a significant time lapse in the story before there appears to be any type of real resolution to the family's crisis. I think if those two aspects had been explored further, the book would have been more compelling throughout rather than just in the beginning chapters.

Nevertheless, A FRIEND AT MIDNIGHT is never boring and is worth checking out. It takes a somewhat realistic look at how the repercussions --- both good and bad --- of a life-changing event (or in this case, multiple life-changing events) can affect a family.

--- Reviewed by Sarah Sawtelle (
Poignant, realistic story.  Dec 10, 2006
Caroline B. Cooney is well known for her compelling young adult sagas and in A FRIEND AT MIDNIGHT she's created another winning leisure read for grades 6-9. Lily hates her father: her brother went to live with him after the divorce and came back with a secret only Lily knows. Part of her wants to honor her father; part of her wishes to judge him in this poignant, realistic story.
Excellent  Dec 1, 2006
Lily is taking care of her baby brother Nathaniel while her mother and stepfather drive her older sister to college. Then the phone rings and she hears her eight year old brother Michael's voice.

Despite their misgivings, her family had honored Michael's decision to go live with his father but now he is at Washington/Baltimore airport, alone and scared. No problem, Lily thinks, I can get the bus to LaGuardia to meet his plane. Only, Michael doesn't have a ticket to fly home. When Lily learns the truth about her brother's predicament she has to act quickly to rescue him. The fallout from that day turns Lily's world inside out and upsets her relationship with her family, her friends and with God.

Cooney can build tension in a story like no one else. Lily's anger is justified and the reader shares it. She is trying to protect her brother and she is furious with her dad. How God can allow bad things to happen?

"...She was skeptical of prayer, never paid attention at church and referred to the minister -- Dr. Bordon -- as Dr. Boring. But into the quiet air of her bedroom, she said, "God?"

He wasn't listening. Lily could tell. She spoke more sharply. "God, Michael needs this. Make it happen. Don't give me that stuff about free will, how people make their own choices, how your choices don't alway intersect with the choices of others in a pleasing fashion and how responsibility lies with the individual. Get down here and make this happen."

I heard Cooney talk about this book at a library conference. She commented (I paraphrase here) that there is an unspoken rule in mainstream YA publishing that you do not write about religion or faith. She is very active in her own church, has been all her life, and knowing that there are teens who are similarly involved, decided it was worth exploring as a YA novel. She was pleased when she learned the book was going to be released through two Random House divisions, WaterBrook(religious) AND Delacourt.

The storytelling is compelling and stands on its own as a teen-in-crisis novel. Lily is searching for answers. Her questions about God and faith are ones many share. Cooney deftly explores the idea that faith does not guarantee "happily ever after" but helps believers and searchers deal with "what comes after."

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