Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams
Published by Simon & Schuster
Publish Date: May 1, 2012
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)
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.
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.
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.
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:
Stories Containing Issues: Depression,
Promiscuity, Death of a Sibling,
Family Issues, etc.
Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams
is currently available for purchase.