London, the narrator of Carol Lynch Williams’ novel in verse Waiting, lives in Florida with her parents and with the memory of her late brother Zach hanging over her family. Her mother has not spoken to her since Zach’s death. Her father seems warm by comparison, but it is obvious Zach’s death has also deeply affected him. London has a strained relationship with Taylor, her former boyfriend who was also a friend of Zach’s and soon starts to develop feelings for Jesse, the new guy at school. In her grief-stricken state, London rarely makes good choices when it comes to Taylor and Jesse.
London’s parents are former missionaries and she and Zach became best friends as their family traveled from country to country together. Zach’s death strains the religious beliefs of all three surviving family members. London constantly questions her faith. Her mom has quit going to church altogether while her dad continues to work for the church and hold on to his belief that Zach’s death was all part of God’s plan.
Williams is very slow to reveal how Zach died and this helps build tension in the novel. It also makes Waiting a novel about how people deal with the death of a loved one instead of a novel about why someone died. Waiting is an honest and moving look at a difficult subject.