Published by Simon & Schuster BfYR on May 1st 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Verse
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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.
I read two of Carol Lynch Williams’ books last year and I quickly became a fan of her as an author. This year I decided to venture into her verse stuff at the urging of Bekka from Great Imaginations. Since opening myself up to verse novels much more over the holidays I was more open to the idea and I am so happy that Bekka recommended this one to me.
Waiting is the story of London’s life in the aftermath of her brother’s death. The novel starts with a very bleak feel and I felt so sad as we looked in on London’s life. Since her brother’s passing her mother can’t even look at her and her father is never home. There was an intense darkness to the story and I felt depressed right off the bat. It seemed as if the home that London shared with her family became it’s own entity in the novel, a place of unhappiness and sorrow. I found myself hating London’s mother for how she treated her daughter, for how she just checked out of life when her son died and failed to realize that she had another living child sleeping down the hall from her. The gloomy vibe of the novel was so potent that I actually began to wonder if there would be any light in this darkness at all, but rest assured that there is.
London starts to find her way out of the fog that she has been living in since Zach’s passing as she starts to let people back into her life. She really struggles with connecting with the boy who was her boyfriend before Zach’s passing, Taylor, because he reminds her so much of her late brother. See Zach and Taylor were best friends. They were always together and even wore the exact same aftershave. While London wants to reconnect with Taylor and let him console her she just can’t look at him or even smell him without being reminded of what she has lost. Letting new people into her life is much easier than reconnecting with the people she once knew. She randomly meets Lili at school one day and through her is introduced to her hunky brother Jesse. Immediately she falls in love with the idea that Jesse and Lili know nothing of her past, they don’t look at her like the other kids at school do. For those afraid that this leads to an ugly love triangle, you have nothing to fear. Everything is handled so well and all of London’s motivations for looking at each boy is clear as day.
As far as the use of verse I think it was effective to tell the story in a wrenching way. While the poems weren’t stylized like I have seen many times before and felt more like paragraphs defined more than usual it was still told in a fluid and enchanting way. I spent so much of this novel lost in London’s grief and when I finally finished the book my eyes actually hurt from crying so much. I didn’t only cry because of the sadness I also cried for her strength as we watched her morph back into her old self and deal with her family in the best way that she could. Waiting is a vividly painted picture of a family falling apart after the death of a child/brother.
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