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Waiting

Review

Waiting

London and her older brother, Zach, were about as close as two siblings could be. Homeschooled by their parents while their dad served as a missionary around the world, the two became each other's closest friends and confidantes. "We were like those twins, Zach and me," London reflects. "As close. He was my hero, my best friend. Always believing, always talking, always there." Even after the family returned to the United States and Zach and London started high school in Florida, and even after Zach met the love of his life, the two remained close. London even started dating Taylor, Zach's best friend and fellow member of the football team.

"The conflict Carol Lynch Williams sets up --- between desire for a boy who knew London's brother and deeply understands her grief, and desire for a boy who represents future possibilities --- is complex and intriguing.... Williams relates London's story in spare, even austere prose, which is laid out on the page to resemble free verse."

But when Zach, the golden boy not only of the high school but also of their family, takes his own life, London feels utterly unmoored and alone. Her father retreats into the assurance of his Christian faith, but London feels no such Biblical certainty. Her mother seems to blame London for Zach's death and hasn't spoken to her since he died. London even broke up with Taylor in the wake of Zach's suicide. Now she feels alone, unsure of where to turn for comfort or even human contact.

As the novel opens, it's nine months after Zach's death, and Taylor seems to want to get back together with London. She knows she loved him once, but she's hesitant to return to him, especially once she meets Jesse, the new boy at school. Jesse doesn't know anything about Zach's death or London's possible involvement (or lack thereof); he just sees her as a girl.

The conflict Carol Lynch Williams sets up --- between desire for a boy who knew London's brother and deeply understands her grief, and desire for a boy who represents future possibilities --- is complex and intriguing. London herself, however, is possibly most affected by her mother's rejection of her, a silence and animosity that is difficult to imagine but nevertheless is a plausible response to traumatic grief.

Williams relates London's story in spare, even austere prose, which is laid out on the page to resemble free verse. The language, however, is only rarely lyrical and is instead realistic and authentic, as London struggles to come to terms not only with her ongoing grief but also with a vision of what the future might look like --- and with whom. The scenes in which London finally relates the circumstances of Zach's death are particularly harrowing in their description, and they give the reader a glimpse --- however transitory --- of London's own horror and despair.

Despite all this, WAITING ends on a surprising --- and surprisingly hopeful --- note, as London discovers that Zach's legacy might live on in ways other than just in her imagination.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on July 22, 2012

Waiting
by Carol Lynch Williams

  • Publication Date: May 7, 2013
  • Genres: Fiction, Young Adult 14+
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
  • ISBN-10: 1442443545
  • ISBN-13: 9781442443549