Monday, March 7, 2016

Book Review: Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams

Release date: May 1, 2012
Author links: Goodreads - Website
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Pages: 352
Purchase links: Amazon - Book Depository - Adlibris

Description (from Goodreads):

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.

Ever since I read The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams, I have been interested to check out her other novels and Waiting sounded instantly interesting to me since it not only deals with questions of first love, but also with suicide and the lives of those close to someone who commits suicide.

London is the daughter of a missionary father and a religious mother who spent her childhood traveling around the world. After London's brother Zach faced problems dealing with the horrors they often had to face on their journeys, the family moved back to United States to make sure that Zach gets better. Eventually, he falls in love and finds happiness, but that is taken away from his because of his family's religious beliefs and the opinions of the girl's parents. Zach ends up killing himself and London and her parents fall apart. London's father starts to work more and more while her mother fails to even acknowledge her. Was what happened to Zach her fault? Is there something more she could have done?

London is an interesting character who finds herself from the crossroads of her life for the very first time. Her brother, her best friend, is gone, and her family is crumbling into little pieces that she fails to recognize. As someone who has gone through the grieving process of losing someone close to me for suicide, I was able to identify with London's doubts about the role she played in her brother's decision and the battle she has with the thoughts about whether she could have done something, or said something, that could have stopped her brother. 

There is a sort of love-triangle here between London, Taylor and Jesse. Taylor is the best friend of Zach and knows what London is dealing with. While that is comforting to her, Taylor also reminds her of Zach and at times she finds it difficult to spend time with a walking reminder of better times. Jesse is new to town and while he is aware of what happened, he didn't know Zach, which London was surprisingly comforting. Though I am not at all a fan of love triangles, I am a fan of flawed characters that are trying to figure their life out, and in this book, the two guys essentially aid London in the process of coping with her grief and finding answers for her life after the loss of Zach.

Waiting is narrated in verse, which I really liked, but at the same time, I couldn't help thinking how much more powerful this novel would have been if it was narrated via prose and thus would have probably included a bit more backstory and characterization. Nevertheless, I think the verse narration works too, and provides a nice escape from the more traditional prose storytelling. The verse narrative also made this one a fairly quick read, which is also a nice bonus. 

Waiting did not impress me as much as Lynch William's The Chosen One, but despite that, I did find it to be a touching account about the struggles of a young girl whose life completely changes in a fairly unexpected instant.

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