Author: Lara Zielin (Twitter)
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publish Date: August 2, 2012
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Seventeen-year-old Jane McAllister can't quite admit her mother's alcoholism is spiraling dangerously out of control until she drives drunk, nearly killing them and Jane's best friend. She has only one place to turn: her older brother Ethan, who left the problems at home years ago for college. A summer with him and his tornado-chasing buddies may just provide the time and space Jane needs to figure out her life and whether it still includes her mother.But she struggles with her anger at Ethan for leaving home and feels guilty--is she also abandoning her mom just when she needs Jane most? The carefree trip turned journey of self-discovery quickly becomes more than Jane bargained for, especially when the devilishly handsome Max steps into the picture.
Jane's life at home is hardly picture-perfect. While most kids her age are trying on the latest fashions, driving new cars and looking forward to the next party, Jane spends her time babysitting and using her hard-earned money to pay the bills and care for her alcoholic mother. Convinced that if she leaves her mother alone to fend for herself, she'll die, Jane is trapped in a debilitating environment with nowhere to turn. But when a deadly car crash nearly kills both Jane and her best friend, Cat gives her an ultimatum: get away from your mother, or we can't be friends. And so Jane heads off for a summer with Ethan, but even then, her mother's disease is never far behind.
I can't tell you why I took so long to read The Waiting Sky. I was dying to read it, but there's always that fear that a book you're looking forward to won't live up, and I hate that. Nevertheless, I decided to give it a go, and I'm so glad I did. Lara Zielin has created a heartwrenching character trapped in unfathomable circumstances and facing down the most difficult decision of her life. Tackling gripping drama head-on, the novel spins you into a whirlwind of drama, adventure, romance and self-realization, giving you a first-hand look at one girl's fight to find an even footing. With a fast-placed plot, relatable characters and plenty of drama to keep you invested, The Waiting Sky is riveting.
There was so much about The Waiting Sky that worked for me that it very nearly outweighs all the subtle flaws. First and foremost, I must say that the book is slim, and it's action-packed, so you'll never feel as though it lags, or you're stuck, or you need to put it down. From page one, we're thrust into Jane's life, which is messy, complicated and completely revolves around her alcoholic mother. Her mother is one of those characters that I longed to pity because I know she has a disease, but her selfishness made my blood run cold. Jane existed solely to keep her mother alive, and her mother manipulated Jane with promises, kindness and love whenever she needed anything. I had a difficult time accessing Jane's persona at first because her being is entirely wrapped up in her mother's existence. Separating the two was almost a struggle, but when Jane finally goes to chase tornadoes with her brother, we begin to see just how broken she is. Max was a fairly strong secondary character and love interest, but I really wanted more of him in the novel. I appreciate the fact that there was no insta-love, rather an insta-connection between these two fairly lost souls, but I think more insight into Max's struggles would have heightened that connection and amped up the conclusion a notch. I think that Ethan was a great character. His bitterness and resentment towards his mother, as well as his sadness and frustration about Jane's inability to escape as he had was tangible and heartfelt, and his emotions bled onto the pages. For the most part, the other secondary characters were quite strong, as well. Victor's own struggles resonated, and I could see Jane healing as she experience his healing, as well. I do wish there'd been a bit more tornado action and chasing, but hey, that's just me. The end wraps up nice and sweet, and it's a fitting conclusion with just enough holes to keep us wondering how it will all turn out for Jane and her family.
Overall, I think that The Waiting Sky was a strong story in which I easily became invested. While I think there were a few lowlights, it was definitely one of those reads that stays in your mind. I give it a high 3.5 out of 5, and I recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.