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.
Written in free-form verse, Waiting told the story of a family’s crippling, destructive grief that for a time or two, didn’t seem like there was an end. Ms. Williams’ words and the method in which she told the story made it infinitely more painful. The palpable grief and loneliness that the characters felt seeped through the pages, contaminating the reader and consequently taking them to an emotional journey wracked with agonizing pain.
London was one of those characters who felt too much; too much grief, too much sorrow, too much love and at the same time anaesthecized to feel anything otherwise. As a result, her ache becomes your ache. You’ve got to be a stone-hearted statue not to feel for her. For once, I didn’t feel like I wanted to choke a character for making bad decisions in her life. For once, I supported her when she thought she could hide the two boys in her life without the other knowing. I wanted her to feel like she wasn’t immune to other feelings other than grief. The oblivion those boys could offer, though innocent, is deserved. The girl needed a bit of happy in her otherwise bleak, miserable, depressing, hopeless existence.
I don’t know how a person so seemingly strong could be defeated by something as a break-up that he thought the answer was suicide.
I don’t know how parents can turn off their parental instincts.
I don’t know how to emphatize with people so distraught that their world comes to a screeching halt altogether.
I don’t know how to get over the death of someone who was your entire universe that you forget there are other people orbiting around you – propelling you to go on.
This book, however, will make you feel like you’re London – carrying the guilt and the suffocating weight of her loss but fighting to dig herself out of the hole. I, however, couldn’t find it in me to feel for her mother who blamed London for Zach’s death. Listen, I get it. Suicide, depression – they’re messy, heart breaking, and no matter how much you want to say you understand, you can’t. You DON’T. Unless you’ve been there. But I know something about parenting. You don’t stop being a parent just because one of your children is gone. You don’t stop talking to her just because you’re so overcome with guilt yourself but can’t, won’t own up to it. Her father would rather work himself raw than face the reality of what was happening in his own home. That’s just cowardly. I also know something about suicide. But I will not sit here and pretend to understand a person’s state of mind at the time when he perceived life had become unliveable.
VERDICT: Waiting wasn’t a cake-walk read. No. It was difficult and messy. It’s like watching a loved one self-destruct right before your eyes and helping them pick up the pieces of the aftermath. I cried – sloppy tears in the middle of the night. It took me a little less than two hours to finish this book…and about two days to stop thinking about it.