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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Waiting, written by Carol Lynch Williams. Simon & Schuster, 2012. $19.99 ages 12 and up

"Sometimes I feel like I'm still stuck in those last few days.
That I can't get past anything that happened.
That the last real moment for me was hearing my
brother Zach, alive.
I keep trying to remember him that way."

Waiting...that is what I was doing when I closed the cover on the last page of this remarkable book. Waiting for the tears to subside, waiting to let everything that had happened wash over me. Waiting for the smile that was sure to come...the satisfaction at having read yet another amazing story from this skilled and gifted writer!

It broke my heart, and then warmed it. Teary I was, but hopeful.

Poor London, lost, alone and aching to feel anything. It's been nine months since her best friend, her brother Zach, died and her family fell apart. She has closed herself off to those around her, going to school but keeping to herself. Knowing that everyone is looking at her, knowing her story and not wanting anyone to even say Zach's name:

"They say time heals.

It's been months now and I see my brother in

The hurt is unbearable and what is going on at home makes it worse. Her mother has not spoken to her since the day Zach died. She moves like a zombie around their darkened house, leaving it for hours and doing nothing to make it seem like a 'home' anymore.She hates her daughter and blames her for their loss.  Her father is much the same, immersing himself in his work and unable to help himself or the two women who live there with him. It is devastating to a young girl who cannot share her grief or receive any comfort from her parents.

Lili is a new student at school, moving from Utah to Florida mid-year, knowing nothing about London, but drawn to her and wanting to be her friend. Lili, with her effervescent personality and her constant chatter, makes London feel somewhat normal. Lili's brother Jesse awakens something in London as well. She finds him attractive and a distraction from the old...from Taylor who was London's boyfriend, then wasn't, and wants to be again, and from reminders of Zach and the life they lived Before.

They are characters who will live long in my memory. They do not judge, they want to share London's pain and they support her at every turn. As she begins to emerge from the fog, she knows they are there for her and she begins to lean on them for the comfort she needs:

"I don't tell him any of that. I just weep, his arms around
me until Lili and Lauren and Taylor arrive, walking into
the house without even waiting for me to say, "Come in.""

Carol Lynch Williams uses lyric prose to tell this hauntingly beautiful story of loss and recovery. She gives us characters who are vulnerable, sensitive and engaged in being there for London, even when she thinks she needs no one. She knows she needs her parents, but she cannot seem to break through the sadness and guilt that engulfs them.

It is no pat ending, but it is lovely and will resonate with those who have traveled this very poignant and bumpy road with a young woman who is learning that there is a light at the end of the long, dark tunnel that has been her path since Zach's death.

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