the namesake of Wait for Helen to come not a friendly ghost. She may act like a protector, but Helen is the closest thing to a guardian angel. The fact is that the deceitful spirit of Mary Downing HahnThe 1986 book routinely sets its sights on children, playing on their insecurities and twisting the truth in its favor. In fact, not only will Helen come, but she will do whatever it takes to find the perfect playmate for all eternity.
Wait for Helen to come It begins with a blended family of five who moves to the small rural town of Holwell, Maryland after the parents purchase a renovated church. While Jean and Dave work that summer, their three children stay entertained until school starts. Michael disappears into the woods every day to conduct his scientific research, while his biological older sister, Molly, is left to raise her resentful 7-year-old stepsister, Heather.
The family’s supernatural problem begins with the discovery of a graveyard behind the property; this was something parents forgot to tell their children before moving them to the middle of nowhere. Heather finds a grave the cemetery caretaker didn’t even know about. The grave found under a tree is marked with the initials “HEH”, which are also Heather’s initials. However, unlike other residents in the cemetery, this HEH does not have loved ones buried nearby.
Seeing the graveyard for the first time, Molly is stunned by her intense fear of death. She can’t stand knowing that this place is behind her new home and, what’s worse, she feels isolated by fear. All the other members of her family are unfazed by what this collection of tombstones, markers and ancient bones represents, while Molly is forced to confront her feelings about death and the unknown. Her brother Michael is ten years old, but his mind is like that of an adult. Michael doesn’t fantasize or make much of his older sister’s increasingly wild theories and growing paranoia.
Day after day, our lives seemed to grow unhappier, as if she had the ability to rise from the grave and touch us all with her misery.
Meanwhile, Heather isn’t the easiest character to care for. From the beginning, the girl makes her stepbrother’s life hell: Heather regularly sheds crocodile tears and accuses Molly and Michael of bullying Dave into adoring her. Heather also shows no affection for Jean, whom she sees as more of a competition than a father. Adults repeatedly excuse Heather’s behavior because she was traumatized at age two; her biological mother died in a house fire and Heather almost joined her. Jean, desperate to make this whole situation work, pleads with her older children to be more understanding because Heather is “a very unhappy child.”
Unfortunately, Heather’s horrible attitude only gets worse after the move. And she has found a new way to torment her older brothers: she threatens them with her imaginary friend Helen. “Wait until Helen gets here,” Heather hisses every time she doesn’t get her way, or she wants Molly and Michael to suffer for the smallest infraction. What appears to be a child’s method of asserting himself when he feels vulnerable turns into something else entirely. Molly and Michael return home to find their rooms, as well as Jean’s art studio, completely trashed. There’s no way Heather could have done this, so Molly worries that her stepsister’s threats might not be so empty after all.
Molly’s suspicion leads to an investigation at the library, though Michael remains as incredulous as before, even after learning that Helen and HEH from Heather, Helen Elizabeth Harper, are the same. The girl died in 1886 in a local house fire with her mother and her stepfather, but only Helen’s remains were found and buried. This same investigation reveals that Molly is not the only person who thinks that Helen’s ghost remains in the area; others have whispered about the spirit in the pond luring children to their deaths.
Children may be afraid of the ghost in Wait for Helen to comebut it is the thematic elements of the book that concern adults. it wasn’t long ago when parents argued that Hahn’s work should be removed from school reading lists because of its subject matter. It wasn’t so much Helen dragging the children into her watery death that bothered them. Objectors took issue with Heather’s willingness to join Helen in the afterlife; they saw a boy take his own life for personal problems. However, what seemed like an author allowing child suicide is actually a sincere plea for people to be kind and understanding to one another. Hahn reminds us that not everyone carries his pain so openly.
“Do you think my mother has forgiven me?”
“Oh, Heather, she forgave you a long time ago.”
Heather’s cruelty and spite are hard to forgive until Molly finds her stepsister at the pond one fateful night. Only now does she (and the readers) finally see where Heather is coming from. The girl who lied to get her attention, wished her adoptive family dead, and clung to her father for fear she would leave her like “mommy” was more hurt than she ever let on . The Guilt Heather Quietly Lived With: She Never Told Anyone she caused the fire that killed her mother, has eaten away at her for years. That remorse made Heather believe that everyone would hate her if they knew the truth. And now Heather is convinced that leaving with Helen is the only way to end her unhappiness.
The book Wait for Helen to come It’s already grim and gothic enough, but the emotional gravity comes to a head when Molly helps Heather overcome both a manipulative ghost and her inner demons. Molly follows her mother’s original advice and uses her compassion to communicate with Heather. That same bit of understanding, by the way, saves Helen, whose own connection to Heather was due to her circumstances and her similar wishes for forgiveness. These lost souls found each other through parallel tragedies, so it makes sense that they would each take a similar path in recovering from her.
Wait for Helen to come is a poetic and insightful study of rebuilding, whether it’s a family rebuilding itself or a broken child realizing a father’s unconditional love. What really sticks with readers is the insightful human element of this book and sophisticated conversation about mortality. The result is deeply cathartic for all ages. Ultimately, this is a ghost story where the most haunting stuff isn’t even supernatural.
There was a time when the young adult section of bookstores was full of terror and suspense. These books were easily identified by their bold fonts and striking cover. This remarkable subgenre of YA fiction thrived in the 1980s, peaked in the 1990s, and finally came to an end in the early 2000s. NOW horror of this sort is indeed a thing of the past, but the stories live on today. buried in a book. This recurring column reflects on the nostalgic novels that still haunt readers decades later.