Summary: London’s best friend is her brother Zach; it has always been the two of them as their family has moved across the world as missionaries. When Zach dies, London’s faith is questioned and she finds herself very alone.
Carol Lynch Williams immediately caught my attention in Waiting, the story of London trying to heal after the loss of her brother, Zach. Written in verse, the story is immediately entrancing – Lynch submerges her readers into the deep emotional, aching pit of London’s life. The pacing is fast and Lynch’s words are deliberate, meticulous… calculated. I breezed through this sorrowful story of loneliness and loss.
London has grown up with missionary parents – living in the farthest reaches of the world. They had moved back to the United States, where Zach and London were enrolled in public school. After Zach dies, her father immerses himself further into the church, but leads a mostly silent life at home. London’s mom hasn’t so much as glanced in her direction, much less spoken a single word to her. It was understandable that London would examine her faith and make problematic decisions. As a reader we don’t know what happened to Zach. There is secrecy surrounding his death and London isn’t eager to voice the details.
As you can probably imagine, events in London’s life seemed to be defined by a series of “befores” and “afters.” She struggled with how to move on. Before Zach died, London had an awesome boyfriend, Taylor, who also happened to be Zach’s best friend. After, it takes all of her might to be around Taylor because so many of her memories with him are tied to her deceased brother.
Jesse is the new boy at school. He doesn’t have any idea what happened to London and her family. He doesn’t look at her with the same sad, pathetic look everyone else throws her way. Thus begins the downward spiral as London begins to “date” two boys. She draws closer to Taylor again because he understands and can help her remember. BUT, she enjoys the thrill and sneakiness of being with Jesse. Her struggle to choose one boy was really, really difficult for me to read about. I anticipated everything falling [further] to pieces at the climax of the story. I’m not going to let you know what happened and who (or if anyone at all) she chooses.
The most bewildering part of this story was absolutely London’s relationship with her family. She was acting out, begging for attention from her parents who were so blinded by their grief. Bit by bit, the truth behind Zach’s death is revealed, making the pain and anger the reader experiences along with Taylor even more pronounced. As someone who could connect with the faith her family professed, I did not understand her parent’s actions. I could never imagine abandoning my child in such a way. Her mother was absolutely terrible: I hated her.
For a few reasons (written in verse, deeply emotional story, and cheating aspects) I can see this story being a turn-off to some readers. However, if you enjoy books that make you feel and think (and maybe cry), then you should most definitely read this book. My recommendation for fans of The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson is that you pick this up soon; I read Nelson’s book last year and while wonderful and similar in plot, felt emotionally attached to Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams in a whole new way.