‘The moon was speckled like a bird’s egg. It hung reliably in the blackness above Will Turnbull and Nessa Grier who sat side by side on a bench as the leaves fell around them, landing softly on the thick, wet grass. Their knees were just touching, hearts pounding hard.’
Nessa Bruce waits for her husband to come through the double doors. She’d waited for him to return home from Afghanistan for what felt like forever, and now the moment was finally here. But Jake isn’t…Jake Bruce hasn’t come home, and it looks like he never will.
Nessa’s life – and that of her daughter Poppy – is turned upside down in an instant. What has happened to the elusive man at the centre of their world? They hold onto the hopes that he is still out there somewhere, alive…but as time passes by, Nessa is forced to look at her life, at the decisions she has made and the secrets she has kept. For maybe somewhere within it all lies the answer to the question she’s desperate to answer – where is the man she loves?
The Waiting Game is perfect for reading groups with lots of twists and turns, and big topics such as mental illness, discussed in a fresh and sensitive way.
I love a lot of writers’ work; it kind of helps when you write a lot of reviews. There is one writer whose work I get genuinely excited about and that is Jessica Thompson. I eagerly await copies of her books when she releases new material and I’m not ashamed to admit that they are usually devoured in one sitting. I’m happy to say that Jessica Thompson did not disappoint with her latest novel – The Waiting Game.
The novel centres on the life of Nessa Grier – mid-thirties, mum to a demonic teenager, practically a single parent with her husband off in Afghanistan. She is barely holding it together but her life starts to fall apart when her husband doesn’t return home.
Left to pick up the pieces of her life Nessa Grier really starts to crumble and it is only with the help of those close to her that she starts to pull her life together again. Unfortunately, life and death just aren’t that easy.
What I loved about The Waiting Game is the sheer plausibility of it. Thompson deals with heartbreaking situations – in particular mental health issues – with delicacy and heart. She gives us a glimpse at both sides of the spectrum from those who suffer mental health issues to those who are dealing with loved ones who bear the weight of the condition. It is a balanced and fair portrayal.
Thompson easily displays Nessa’s frustration, especially with her daughter’s behaviour, as she battles to maintain control. You get angry with Nessa, you feel her hurt and you hope against hope that things get better for her.
If I had to say that there was anything that I didn’t like about The Waiting Game it would actually be a more personal opinion about the love story thread rather than a fact about the writing. I felt conflicted about who I was rooting for in the novel. I wanted to root for everybody but it wasn’t possible that the story would work that way; I realise that this sounds very cryptic but when you read the novel you will hopefully understand. I think if Thompson had tried to change the love story thread throughout the novel she would have made Nessa seem callous and ended up alienating her to the audience. Therefore, I can understand why it had to be written in this way…but admittedly this did still leave me feeling conflict.
Once again I have been enchanted and swept away by Jessica Thompson’s amazing and beautiful storytelling abilities. Read The Waiting Game people; it is stunning.
The Waiting Game by Jessica Thompson is available now.
Follow Jessica Thompson (@JThompsonAuthor) via Twitter.