In All We Can Do Is Wait by Richard Lawson, a tragic event brings five teens together. Coming from different backgrounds, social circles, and economic levels, they probably wouldn’t have chosen to hang out if it weren’t for this disaster.
The author’s style of writing has created multiple teen characters who are sometimes complex and suspenseful, but all too often just self-seeking and self-absorbed. The characters have all been dealing with hard times in the last few years of their lives and this disaster pushes them to the “wall” and back. The author’s use of suspense is good but he constantly falls back on the choices that characters have made that have multiple repercussions.
Although some readers may find the plot significant or even absorbing, it did not fully capture my attention. While these teens wait in the hospital waiting room to find out if their family members are alive or not, they silently reminisce about how rotten things had become between them and their family members and their own sex lives. Truths are revealed, secret lives and desires are brought to light, and dreams of the future are forged.
While it’s often enjoyable to read about real characters who are flawed and who have to deal with the repercussions of their choices, these characters were hard to connect with. Drugs, alcohol, abusive relationships, honesty issues, dysfunctional parents–many have placed themselves in depressing and tragic places because of their personal choices. Others are just trying to hang on after choices others have made for them. Often refusing to see the consequences of their actions, they keep barreling ahead with no care for how their actions affect the people closest to them.
It felt as if the author was pushing a teen sexual agenda by focusing on the past excursions of the teens rather than the original cause that brought them together. (Please see Content Review and Mature Subject Matter below.) Although the author tries to bring an ending wrapped up nicely with a neat little bow, the many toxic and hidden relationships throughout this book left me disappointed with many of the character’s choices and struggling to bring myself to read the next chapter.
Review of an Advanced Reader’s Copy provided by the Publisher
Profanity/Language: 29 religious exclamations; 14 mild obscenities; 7 derogatory names; 28 scatological words; 14 anatomical terms; 50 F-words.
Violence/Gore: Bridge collapsed, 200 possibly dead; mention of people previously tortured and killed in a foreign country by a dictatorship; many mentions that a boyfriend is abusive with verbal & physical violence; mention of previous injury to teen boy, some blood, scar; teen boy dies in a car crash, no description or details; teen boy at school is revered at school for being mean; three teen girls are killed in an accident; long chapter of parent dying of cancer.
Sex/Nudity: Teen boy declares he loves another teen boy, multiple mentions; teen boy flirts with another teen boy; teen boy had a crush on his roommate; sexting, pic of penis, no description other than implied comment regarding size; teen boy declares he’s gay; many mentions of teen boy and teen girl who are often sexually active, some minor descriptive scenes; teen boy remembers losing his virginity; teen girl says a teen boy is a serial date rapist; teen boy fantasizes about having sex with his girlfriend; teen boy wishes he were having a “quickie” with his girlfriend; brother and sister have a conversation about if they are screwing a boyfriend or girlfriend; teen boy remembers a kiss with his boyfriend; teen boy thinks about jerking off in the past; teen boy kisses another teen boy multiple times; 2 teen boys have sex often, mention of waking up to each other, touching, enjoying nakedness, & places they did it, sex not descriptive; teen boys make out often; mention of an uncle who has a boyfriend and is a homosexual; 2 teen boys have been rumored to be fooling around sexually; 2 teen boys kiss & make out in public.
Mature Subject Matter:
Major local disaster, homosexuality, teen sex, drug dependent parent, parent dying of cancer, parental abandonment of family, death of a parent.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Teen boy drinking alcohol at party; teen boy remembers when he and a friend were drunk and stoned; a friend introduces teen boy to drugs and alcohol; teen boy buys drugs from a man on the street; teen boy often does drugs with friends; sister suspects her brother is taking drugs; teens drink in a vehicle on the way to a dance; teen girls drink alcohol in a bathroom; teen girl figures her friend is at another friend’s house getting drunk; mention of teen boys often sharing a joint with another teen boy; man sells marijuana from his apartment; teen boys at a party share a joint; teens at party drink a lot of alcohol; teen boy drinks alcohol till he passes out; teen boy admits to using pills to feel better; mom takes prescription pills without a prescription and becomes a druggie; teen boy drinks alcohol, does drugs, drives, crashes, dies; father is often in a beer fog; teen girl drinks alcohol at party with other teens using drugs and alcohol; teen sees some drunk people stumbling down the road.