Book review: 'Waiting' is a heady young adult novel

By Melissa DeMoux

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Oct. 11 2012 5:21 p.m. MDT

"WAITING," by Carol Lynch Williams, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 335 pages (f)

Carol Lynch Williams is not afraid to tackle weighty topics in her books.

Sketching polygamy, child abuse and mental illness into the portrait of her previous young adult novels, Williams has steeled her literary voice to encompass complex feelings and complicated characters.

Her newest book, “Waiting,” is no different.

“Waiting” tumbles head first into the gasping mind of London Castle, a high school student crushed under the weight of her brother’s choices. London’s best friend and brother, Zach, took his own life when arduous circumstances landed him in another battle with depression.

Since his death, London’s family has crumbled. Her father, a Baptist missionary turned religious author, buries himself in work while her mother, who blames London for her brother’s death, refuses to acknowledge that London is even alive.

Overwhelmed at the loss of her brother and then the rest of her family, London feels deserted and insignificant. Even at school she feels like an outsider, invisible to the rest of the world.

When anew family moves into the Florida community from Utah, London is drawn to the kind and genuine quality they bring into her life. Torn between a new boy from this family and her brother’s best friend, London fights to pull herself from the despair strewn all around her so that she can finally find peace and freedom.

Like Williams’ previous books, this story does not revolve around intense action or dynamic scenes. The bulk of the tale takes place in the writhing mind of the main character. But the lack of personal encounters and spectacle does not make the book any less compelling. Bubbling turmoil oozes from the pages and pulls readers to ache for this young heroine.

Williams has an unusual style and the cadence of her story fits the topic perfectly. The sentences and paragraphs feel abrupt and choppy, like half-finished thoughts or angry, clipped sermons. This story has a pulse. Its high-pitch keening can be felt in every word.

The tone is a heavy one, but that should be expected considering the subject matter. The book does feature sporadic near-flippant talk of teenage sexuality although it is in no way graphic. Parents should be aware of the powerful themes in the book and be prepared to discuss these with their children.

Melissa DeMoux is a stay-at-home mother of six young children who lives in West Valley City. Her email is mddemoux@gmail.com and she blogs about her adventures in motherhood at demouxfamily.blogspot.com.

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