My Thoughts On: Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams

Posted June 14, 2012 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 19 Comments


Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams
Published by Simon & Schuster
Publish Date: May 1, 2012
352 Pages
Source:  Finished Copy from publisher

After her brother’s death, a teen struggles to rediscover love and find redemption in this gripping novel.

Growing up in Africa and Latin America as the children of missionaries, London and Zach were as close as could be. And then Zach dies, and the family is gutted. London’s father is distant. Her mother won’t speak. The days are filled with what-ifs and whispers: Did Zach take his own life? Was it London’s fault?

Alone and adrift, London finds herself torn between her brother’s best friend and the handsome new boy in town as she struggles to find herself—and ultimately redemption—in this authentic and affecting novel from award-winning novelist Carol Lynch Williams. –(summary from Goodreads)

Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams


My Thoughts: This was quite the intense book. Waiting is one of those books I would probably normally shy away from, but I actually really liked it. Why? Because it is a verse novel. I find that I can handle an intensity for issue books if it they are written in verse format much, much better than if written any other way.

I want to talk for just a second about this novel-in-verse thing. There’s something about a verse novel that punches me in the gut when it is an issue-book, but it is always in a way that is much more manageable and tolerable than a “regular” book. Is it because it takes less time to read? Probably not, although that is typically true for me. Is it because there are fewer words, so they matter more? Probably so. There’s no fluff. All of the words seem calculated, perfectly in place, timed exactly so they tells the story exactly like I need to hear it. There are no extra details that leave me reeling, that leave me overly uncomfortable, that leave me floundering around wondering why on earth I’m suffering through a painful story. I’ve read some major whoppers in terms of issue-books in verse form, and they are among my favorites despite their strong, intense stories and content.

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After London’s brother Zach died, her family fell completely apart. Her mother blames her for his death and her father buries himself in his work to ease his pain. Zach was both her brother and her best friend – I mean, after traveling the world together with their parents as missionaries, who else did they really have but each other? The people of the community – even her old friends – have all abandoned them, refusing even to look at them, almost like they’ll catch their family issues too. So London spends every day all alone. And it’s been nearly a year since Zach died.

When Lili and Jesse move to the area, things slowly begin to change. After an awkward beginning, Lili and London form a slow friendship that strengthens daily. As London lets her guard down and she finds a love that she has been needing and desperate for in the form of this friend and her family. Before too long, London realizes that she’s letting things fill her mind other than her brother’s death – things like hanging out with Lili and the fun they have, and things like how awesome it would be if Lili’s handsome brother Jesse would just kiss her.

While London is building new relationships and healing slowly, she’s also working on her old relationship with Taylor. Taylor is a boy that she used to spend time with, kiss, even really like – but he was also Zach’s best friend (aside from her, of course). Being around Taylor is painful for lots of reasons, but mostly because everything he does reminds her of her brother. As she begins to slowly heal through her growing relationship with Lili and Jesse, London is also able to heal in her relationship with Taylor.

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Ultimately, I think this book is about grief and the loss of a family member and how it can tear a family apart. Written from London’s heartbreaking perspective, we see everything through her eyes and hear her words and inner dialogue. This girl is an absolute wreck, and I was so broken for her. Her parents have basically forsaken her and she’s lost the most important person in her life. No one, no one is helping London through her grief.

The thing that is crazy about London, though, and dangerous about situations like this, is what she does with her grief: she begins to rebel and attention-seek. She desperately loves and needs her parents and their love and their guidance, and they flat-out refuse her. They treat her as if she is dead to them, just like Zach. So she starts doing stuff that she thinks will make her feel more alive, and it does for a very short time, but things like this don’t tend to work out in the long run. And it does get the attention of her parents, but is the cost worth it? Maybe. Maybe not. It is certainly very discussable at this point. And I LOVE that.

While London’s thoughts are shaky and heartbreaking and emotional, her behavior is questionable at best at certain points throughout the book. HOWEVER, I have not been through this situation and do not speak to what my actions or state of mind would be. I only speak to this character and her questionable actions and motives, and her need for support, love, encouragement, and all the grief counseling a person normally goes through. What I love about Waiting are these secondary characters: Lili, Jesse, Taylor, Lauren. These friends are people that London has every emotion over and in the end, there they are. Are they fully developed? Well, honestly, I think they’re as developed as they can be from the mind and mouth of London, written in verse-form. They were developed enough for me and I loved them. So much, in fact. But…

London’s parents are horrible. Well, London’s mother is horrible. She’s pretty disgraceful, in my opinion. I’ve known of mothers like this and I’ve witnessed mothers acting this way. Yes, I realize those are strong words and I stand behind them. Also, despite all of London’s flaws and her mistakes, I still felt emotionally attached to her, and I think a small part of it was because of her horrid parents. I’m not sure if that is reason enough to be attached to someone or not, but I was invested in this character and her well-being and her emotional state. And her mother fails. She is written very, very well.

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Even though Waiting is incredibly intense with a story line that is like WOW that would normally leave me probably doubled over with emotion – at the end, I just loved it. I loved it because I could handle it, it was worded carefully, and it was written perfectly, just like a good verse novel should be. Is Waiting for everyone? I’m not really sure. There are some themes in the story that could be potential triggers for people that have had to deal with losing someone they love, someone close to them. Some of the wording is, well, intense. I know I keep saying that word over and over, but it is the best word to describe this book. In terms of “issue contemps” – Waiting is a great one and I will certainly seek out more of this author’s work, particularly if it is in verse form.


Waiting
will appeal to fans of
:

YA Contemporary
Romance
Novels-in-Verse
Stories Containing Issues: Depression,
Promiscuity, Death of a Sibling,
Family Issues, etc.

Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams
is currently available for purchase.

**I didn’t mention how much I LOVE the wordplay of the title in terms of the story. In all of the relationships between characters in the book, someone is WAITING for something from the other one. For example: Taylor waits for London to come to terms with Zach’s death so they can be together again, London’s family waits for her Mother to snap out of her mood/depression so they can be whole again, London waits for Zach to answer her when she talks to him everyday, etc. I thought it was woven into the story in such a lovely way. 

**I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion and review. I received no compensation for my thoughts. Thank you Simon & Schuster!

Asheley

About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!

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19 responses to “My Thoughts On: Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams

    • I didn't realize it was verse either until I flipped through it for the first time, but it definitely made me enjoy it so much more. I just LOVE verse novels, so much. It makes an intense story easier somehow. This book is tough, but with the verse I never thought it was too tough.

  1. I've not read this, but I get what you're saying about verse novels making it easier to handle intense (painful) books. I've actually only read one story in verse and it was Sold by Patricia McCormick, which was one of the saddest books I've ever read (about a girl in Nepal sold by her family into prostitution). But I think I was able to get through the heavy material, because of how it was written. Not sure this one is for me though.

    • I've never heard of the McCormick book before and I actually meant to attach a question for people to recommend more verse to me. Besides the obvious Ellen Hopkins, who I LOVE, and Lisa Schroeder, I am really at a loss for the verse authors even though I know they're out there.

      Sold sounds really intense, but because it is verse, I would pick it up much sooner than if it was not.

      This one was just so good to me even though the story was heartbreaking. I loved the cover, I loved the style, I loved the perspective, and I loved the play on the title woven throughout the story. And I loved the ending because to me, there was good resolution. I understand completely if it sounds too intense because I am the absolute FIRST to run as hard as I can from a book that sounds like an issue book. Trust me.

    • I think maybe I just have a block against verse novels. But I also want to try some more of them. I really loved that one I read. I will put this on my list and look up those other authors you mentioned. I have heard of Ellen Hopkins works.

    • Based on some of the things you've told me in the past couple of days, let me tell you this: Ellen Hopkins is SUPER INTENSE. STRESS. GUTWRENCHING. It works for me in verse, but to start, you may think of some other authors: Lisa Schroeder who is lovely and fabulous, Sarah Tregay, and Stasia Ward Kehoe (I just checked out Kehoe's book from the library just the other day, Audition).

      Ellen is FANTASTIC, but INTENSE. I love her so much.

    • Thanks roro! I didn't realize contemporary was a favorite genre of yours…you read pretty much everything, don't you?

      I hate that the international shipping is so slow – hopefully it'll arrive to you very soon. I think you'll really like this one. Be sure to let me know! Tweet me!

  2. OKAY Thank you for reviewing Waiting. I LOVE the cover and I've been trying to read more verse books (I love what you said about the words mattering more) and I am such a fan of issue contemp books, YES. Waiting sounds like a ME book.

  3. You are such an eloquent writer, Asheley. Really. I love this part:

    "There’s something about a verse novel that punches me in the gut when it is an issue-book, but it is always in a way that is much more manageable and tolerable than a “regular” book. Is it because it takes less time to read? Probably not, although that is typically true for me. Is it because there are fewer words, so they matter more? Probably so. There’s no fluff. All of the words seem calculated, perfectly in place, timed exactly so they tells the story exactly like I need to hear it."

    Yes! I totally agree. I've actually only read books that have some narration in verse, not fully in verse (Bruiser by Neal Shusterman is an example) but yes, in my experience the writing in this format is usually very powerful as well as beautiful.

    Like Melissa I haven't heard of this one before but wow, I really want to read this now. This post has made me eager to read more novels in verse:)

    • I love them so much. I have to credit Ashley @BasicallyBooks for introducing me to verse but I really love it. And I like the tough ones too. Ellen Hopkins in particular. Her stuff is not easy, not easy at all, but it is so lovely in verse. Her verse is even arranged in pretty formations on the pages. It's amazing.

      But this book: wow. That's all I can say. But I'm thinking my stronger reaction to it has something to do with the fact that verse is something that just pulls at my heart in just the right way.

  4. Didn't know it was a verse-novel either. Itt makes me nervous, 'cause I haven't read one of those since the 5th grade or something.

    But I already have this book so I think I'll give it a try, it sounds very emotional and sad ):

    • OH I LOVE A VERSE NOVEL SO MUCH.

      It IS emotional and sad at parts, but there is hope and love in there too. It's all mixed up, but it ends well. There is resolution. Don't be afraid of it. PLUS, it's a quick read, so it will work well with your extremely busy schedule!!! (See how I worked that in there?? Those verse books are great for busy people.)

  5. This is such an amazing review! I've had this one on request from the library for at least a month. I'm anxiously waiting for it to come in. I agree with everything you said at the beginning about being able to handle tough issues better when they're written in verse. There are no wasted words with this format, each word has a point and a purpose. I absolutely adore books in verse <3

    You might be interested to know that I'm hosting a novel-in-verse reading challenge for the year. You can check it out here: http://bornbookish.blogspot.com/2012/01/randomness-novels-in-verse-reading.html

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