cover image Michael, Wait for Me

Michael, Wait for Me

Patricia Calvert. Atheneum Books, $16 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-689-82102-8

Calvert's (Glennis, Before and After) story narrated by an intelligent, funny sixth-grader, who first rejects then accepts her older sister's boyfriend, starts out strong then loses steam. Sarah Connelly thinks that her summer is ruined when her sister, Kimberlee, brings yet another boyfriend home from college for an extended visit. However, the first time Sarah lays eyes on Michael Miller (""I had the feeling he was a person nobody ever called Mike""), she knows he is different from Kimberlee's former admirers. The author hints at Michael's secret (""There was a peculiar sad shadow behind the blueness"" of his eyes) before revealing that Michael accidentally shot his older brother. She convincingly relates Sarah's resentment for being forced to give up her room to a stranger and the ways in which he disrupts her family's routine. Yet Michael's mix of mysterious and needful qualities prompt Sarah to reach out toward him, much like the shy dog, Bingo, her family is attempting to train as a show dog. Just when Sarah begins to think of Michael as ""being folded into the Connelly family forever,"" Kimberlee has a change of heart. Things then unravel too quickly. Although Calvert painstakingly characterizes the relationship between Sarah and Michael, she neglects to develop much of a bond between Sarah and her sister, so that Kimberlee's about-face goes uncharacteristically undetected by the otherwise sharp-eyed Sarah. A disappointingly rushed ending to a promising premise. Ages 10-14. (Apr.)