Rebecca Birkin's Reviews > Waiting

Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams
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Mar 11, 12

bookshelves: ya-fiction-children-s-fiction-con
Read in March, 2012

After I finished WAITING last night, I couldn’t sleep. Some books change you, and WAITING did this for me.
This isn’t the typical grieving story, which is a good thing. Rather than an overdramatic focus on the dead brother, the plot centers on London, the main character. Through skillful word choice, the author tells us precisely enough for each moment, each scene. As a master at showing rather than telling, the author describes a younger Zach and London discovering all the hidden Christmas presents, swearing not to tell, and keeping that promise. Their trust relationship helps us understand Zach’s later confession to London. (view spoiler)

Carol Williams gives the reader a clear picture of a girl turned inside out by grief and rejection. London’s grief process has stalled. The author draws the main character through story details, sobbing on her brothers grave as no one at home notices she's gone, eating her meals alone, watching her mother sob into her brother’s pillow, asking her mother if she'd like some food and hearing silence in return.

Not only is the plot skillfully drawn, but the book is also filled with exquisite language. In one scene after London feels a moment of happiness, the character says, “The sky is the color of a blue flower plate with a rim of gold-orange closets to the earth.” Like that edge of sunrise, hope emerges bit by bit as London grows. The character terms her own changes as a metamorphosis. Because of what she’s been through, I didn't mind that she stumbles at first, much like all newly-emerged life. (view spoiler) I understood this, and saw it as London's exploration of what it means to live again.

This story doesn’t push a message. No campaign about being saved, no lecture about premarital sex. The author can talk about London’s feelings about God, including both her doubts and her settling back into faith, because London is an honest, complete character rather than a platform.
The ending is satisfying and warm without being unbelievably happily ever after. It acknowledges that some things can’t be fixed, yet left me with a learning-to-breathe-again kind of hope. As London says to her father, “I think we’re going to be okay.”

After finishing the book last night, (view spoiler) I love how London says that if she were the mom, she’d pull her remaining family close and never let a single one feel unloved. It made me want to go hug my own family.

I have a large collection of Carol Lynch William's books. WAITING is now one of my new favorites.
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