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The Watcher

3.47  ·  Rating Details ·  1,286 Ratings  ·  191 Reviews
Now in a mass market paperback edition, James Howe's acclaimed novel about a mysterious girl, and the fantasy she weaves about the lives of two people she doesn't know, will reach and touch the lives of thousands of fans new and old.
Hardcover, 184 pages
Published May 1st 1997 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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Jan 15, 2010 Josiah rated it liked it
It's difficult to know exactly what to say about this book. As an author, James Howe is frequently in prime position on the literary vanguard, trying daring new things and writing books that are uniquely built to very unexpected endings. In this, his first bona fide young adult novel, we are given something like a cross between authors Kevin Henkes and Robert Cormier, a combination that I never expected to ever see.

As unique as all of James Howe's writing is, The Watcher is probably the most u
Aug 06, 2011 Alyssa rated it liked it
Page 69:

Sarah: Why are they getting a divorce?

Callie: They're tired of each other, I guess. You know how you have a favorite doll and you think if you ever lose her you'll die? But then you get a new doll for your birthday or something?

Sarah: Christmas.

Callie: Or Hanukkah. Anyway, so now this new doll is your favorite and you don't care about the old one anymore ad you could even give her away if you had to.

Sarah: I could never give one of my dolls away. I don't care if she wasn't my favorite an
Apr 21, 2015 Caitlin rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 26, 2013 Sandy rated it it was ok
Shelves: own, ya, realistic-fiction
Margaret is a watcher. She likes to go to the beach and watch people, doesn’t say anything, just watches which starts to creep some people out as there is no words escaping from her lips, no changes in her facial expression, she just watches. Margaret does grab her pad of paper putting her thoughts and feelings down on paper. Then we have Evan who hangs out with his younger sister, Callie. Evan would rather be with people his own age but he feels safer with his sister. Chris is a lifeguard who i ...more
Nov 16, 2007 Tiffanyy rated it liked it
Shelves: books-o7-o8
This book consists of three different perspective of the three characters. One is Chris, a local lifeguard on the beach, another is the "watcher", she's a teenage girl that sits in the beach alone with her notebook and she would write in it and stare at other families in the beach, yearning for a picture perfect family like theirs because she gets abused by her own family. And the last character is a guy named Evan, a thirteen year old boy that hangs around with his little sister, Callie but Eva ...more
Mar 07, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it
This is an interesting novel when I saw the title at the first time. “The Watcher.” First thing I think of the book is about a girl which just judge by its cover. And that girl is being a watcher because she’s alone, and she doesn’t have the things other people have, she just can watch other people’s happiness. I was kind of right by judging its cover page. However, the more interesting of this novel is it talks about three characters, although they are not connect to each other, but they all s ...more
Jessica Ng
May 18, 2008 Jessica Ng rated it liked it
Shelves: 10thgrade
I found this book from Alexandra when I went to her goodreads profile. The book seemed pretty thin and the cover sort of attracted my attention, but I thought it was kind of creepy. I would recommend this book to anyone in my advisory.
This book is about a girl, Margaret who is very shy and quiet. She just sits on the beach everyday and watches the people live their life. I thought it was interesting how the book cover is of a girl, but then its told in the point of view of a boy named Evan who s
Hui Lin
Jan 15, 2009 Hui Lin rated it liked it
Shelves: 10th
This book is about a girl who has a very woeful life. Instead of going out and enjoying her ownlife, she would go to the beach continously to observe other people's life. Then she would write down what she saw and start to write about her own ideal family. It is obvious that something had happened to her. And from her actions, it is also clear that she really wanted to have a happy life with her family, but yet, she is unable to do that.
I enjoyed reading the different perspectives of the charact
Ms. Austin
Apr 17, 2009 Ms. Austin rated it really liked it
This book is a bit depressing. There is a story within a story. I like the inferring you do as you read both stories. Even though this is dark and depressing, I really like how the three main characters come together.
Dec 12, 2011 Arianny rated it really liked it
The Book Review
The Watcher
By James Howe

This suspensing and jaw-dropping story doesn’t have a film in the making or in the theaters yet but just because it isn’t’ in the theaters doesn’t mean it isn’t a thrilling story. Interestingly “The Watcher” was the very FIRST young adult fiction book that James Howe has published. Secondly coming in place is the book “The Color of Absence: Twelve Stories About Loss and Hope. When Mr. Howe himself was responding to interview question by Scholastic Stude
Erin Brinkley
Jun 29, 2013 Erin Brinkley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: libs-678
I would place The Watcher by James Howe in a middle or high school general education teacher’s hands who knows of a student who is dealing with abuse. This book, as well as, the novel Speak by Anderson deals with a young girl being abused by someone she knows. This book could help a student cope with the abuse and feel a connection to the main character in the novel. A guidance counselor may even want to know about this book so he or she could recommend it to a student. I would even recommend th ...more
Sep 21, 2014 Caroline rated it really liked it
So far this semester, I’ve read a number of books from many different genres, but I really liked The Watcher by James Howe. I was in a Kansas bookstore, visiting my sister, when I saw the spine and pulled it out. I’d never read anything from the author before, but the cover and strange summary on the back made me decide to read it. Although I was surprised at how thin The Watcher is at first, the entire book is written in a somewhat poetic form, like a description of some mysterious painting. Th ...more
Sep 25, 2016 Katie rated it liked it
I had forgotten how surreal and haunting this book feels. The imagery stays with you.
Also on my blog, Luthien Reviews.

In the distance, she could hear the steady roar of the ocean. She ran along strange paths, past wild blueberry bushes and tall reeds whispering reeds

wild blueberries and whispering reeds

Until she came to the dunes and then she ran across those and at last she came to the ocean.

Her heart was happy and sad at the same time.

Happy because the ocean went on forever and promised freedom.

Every day, a young girl sits on a set of wooden stairs going down to the beac
May 16, 2015 Christie rated it liked it
Shelves: ya
The Watcher was published in 1999 to much critical acclaim. James Howe is the well-known author of the over 90 juvenile and YA books including Bunnicula and The Misfits series. ( I read Totally Joe and was a big fan.)

There are three main characters in The Watcher: Chris, the golden-boy lifeguard, Evan, the fourteen-year-old on vacation with his younger sister and parents, and the girl who sits at the top of the steps leading down to the beach, watching.

The truth is, though, that they are all wat
b00k r3vi3ws
Jan 14, 2013 b00k r3vi3ws rated it really liked it
Shelves: review-copy
This is indeed one of those books where even while reading it for the first time, you know that you are missing out on something. So, even though I had finished reading this book long time back, but I waited for some time to read it a second time before sitting down to write this review.

At a glance, this is a story of three young people – Chris, Evan & Margaret. Chris has a past with a loss that he is yet to come terms with and works as a lifeguard at the beach. Evan is a young teenager who
Ms.Tina  Stone
Feb 08, 2015 Ms.Tina Stone rated it really liked it
I thought that The Watcher was a very good book with a plethora of quality take away messages. This book is definitely for upper grades, I would say 5th-7th. This book takes place in Fire Island, NY and is about three main characters, Margaret, Evan, and Chris. Margaret, who is perceived to be a weird outcast is actually in desperate need of someone to rescue her from her abusive father. From the outside looking in Evan's life seems perfect but if you took a closer look one would see that his pa ...more
Apr 23, 2014 Nikita rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: High School Students
Recommended to Nikita by: Read for Class
Shelves: lit-circle-books
Every day she sits on the beach, and watches. James Howe writes a remarkable book about a young girl who weaves a fantasy involving the beach-goers lives from her perspective, sitting on the top step of the stairs leading to the ocean front. "The Watcher" is not your typical book; written for young adults, it explores different life styles by diving into the personal lives of the different characters.
The watcher is a girl, about 12 years old, who perches herself on the very top step of the sta
Maya Chhong
Nov 13, 2016 Maya Chhong rated it really liked it
The Watcher an extremely deep and meaningful story about the interactions of three unique teens on a small beach town. Each teenager assumes something about the other by their appearances, however learns that life isn’t always as it appears. Each person’s story is uniquely intertwined with the other until the story reaches its end and everything comes together. While this is a little more common theme for most YA books, The Watcher pulls it off in under 200 pages with its own unique darker poeti ...more
Jan 26, 2010 Alyanna rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
This is a young adult fiction novel written by James Howe is about a teenage girl, Margaret, who goes to beach and anticipates other people's lives instead of living her own and she write it down in her notebook. Generally, her life isn't perfect and she abused by her father when she comes home. As a reader, I would define Margaret as a trouble, confused teen because of all the serious events that happen to her in the book.
What I truly liked about this book is the point of view that James Howe m
Sep 04, 2008 Justin rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amayah Hutchinson
Dec 13, 2014 Amayah Hutchinson rated it really liked it
In The Watcher, it is not easy to say who exactly is the main character. You can say that the book revolves around several characters with personal problems of their own: one is a mysteriously odd girl who watches everyone she sees everyone with a keen eye(in the book we don't learn much from her but her story is told through a story of a girl held hostage by an enchanted doll and a beast.) Evan is a boy who struggles with having to leave his little sister Sarah because of his parents' soon div ...more
Esther Kim
Nov 25, 2012 Esther Kim rated it it was amazing
I chose this book, beacuse I was in the library looking for a book to read for goodreads. When I first saw the cover, it caught my eye,because it looked very mysterious to me. After reading the back, I grabbed the book and immediately checked it out. This book takes place near and on the beach, and revolves around three teenagers named Chris, Evan, and Margaret. Everybody calls Margaret "the watcher," because she sits on the same step every day and watches Chris and Evan on the beach. She then ...more
Jun 26, 2010 Stacy rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult, 2010
The sins of the father . . . . (spoilers)

This is a interesting story about two young men and the girl who watches them. Chris has escaped from his father by taking a lifeguarding position on the island. He lives in a house shared by many other lifeguards for the summer. Long before Chris was born, there was another son. Micheal. He drowned in a pool when he went to work with his carpenter father one day. On that day, both the little boy and the father died. Christ feels helpless. He wants to sav
Jun 24, 2014 Luisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: older-teens
She sits on the stairs at the beach and watches the perfect happy family. She watches the lifeguard like a guardian angel protecting everyone. She writes in her notebook, but she's silent, invisible. Evan sees her as he worries about his family and wishes he was as cool as Chris, the life guard with the mirrored sunglasses. Chris searches for meaning and direction as he talks to Jenny, another guard. Chris sees happy families soaking up the sun and playing in the sand. Chris and Evan both wonder ...more
Mar 30, 2011 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
People say you never know someone until you take a walk in their shoes. And in the story The Watcher, this statement rings true. This book follows three young teenagers trying to make their way through life. Chris is a young life guard who seems to have the world in his hands, but a tragedy from the past makes him question everything about his future. Evan is a thirteen year old who adores his family, but when his parents start fighting his world starts to crumble. And lastly, Margaret, she is a ...more
Jan 16, 2011 Nadia rated it it was ok
For whatever reason I can’t recall, I remembered this book as one from my younger days that I loved. So I decided I wanted to reread it. At the start, it’s a fairly decent read, but whatever magic I once found here wasn’t as brilliant the second time around as is with rereading books from the teenage shelf when you’re in your 20’s. Nonetheless, it wasn’t terrible. There were some beautiful moments when the author’s choice of words had you glued to the spot wishing you had come up with that yours ...more
Dec 01, 2010 Melissa rated it really liked it
I picked up this book to read from a pile of books that were my daughter's from many years ago. She never finished reading it and now I am unsure why? The book, while it is nearly 200 pages, took me less than a couple hours to read.

This is a fantastic book. Not the run of the mill, abused child depiction, but a round about way of hitting the subject smack dab in the middle of the face and not letting you escape the grim reality of feeling alone and isolated.

The Watcher is meant for a younger r
Ramsden H
May 31, 2016 Ramsden H rated it liked it
The Watcher is told from the view of four different people. First Margaret. The watcher. Everyday in her own world, she sits and watch the families that are on the beach for vacation, mesmerized by their perfectness. Second Chris. The lifeguard. He sits on his stand, a little too deep in thought to do his job productively. Next Callie. A sweet little girl, who makes up her own fantasy world in order to get away from the big scary reality. And last Evan. Callie's protective older brother who is m ...more
Kelly Liang
The book seemed pretty thin and the cover sort of attracted my attention, but I thought it was kind of creepy. I would recommend this book to anyone in my advisory.
This book is about a girl, Margaret who is very shy and quiet. She just sits on the beach everyday and watches the people live their life. I thought it was interesting how the book cover is of a girl, but then its told in the point of view of a boy named Evan who sees her watching him on the beach one day when hes with his family. Eva
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

James Howe has written more than eighty books in the thirty-plus years he's been writing for young readers. It sometimes confuses people that the author of the humorous Bunnicula series also wrote the dark young adult novel, The Watcher, or such beginning reader series as Pi
More about James Howe...

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“The point is that something I thought was perfect has been broken, and I'm having to find the beauty in what is there instead of what I thought was there. Like this shell. I can either spend all my time wishing it were perfect, trying to imagine it the way it was or might have been, or I can see how beautiful it is just like this. ” 8 likes
“We all start out thinking that there is such a thing as perfection and that there's something wrong with us if we settle for less. First we won't eat the food with the brown spots. Then we hate ourselves because we have our own brown spots—pimples or ears that are too big or legs that are too skinny.” 5 likes
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