All We Can Do Is Wait is a book by Richard Lawson that I picked up at a local bookstore a few years back. I spotted the book because of it’s pretty pink, blue and purple spine and ended up picking it up because I loved the premise.
I read this book when I got it, but I recently re-read it again so I could review it. I enjoyed in while in high school, but I wanted to see if I’d still enjoy it as a college student. So, let’s get into this review.
*This review is spoiler-free, but does mention some things that happen later than the first couple of pages. If you want to go in blind, just consider reading the synopsis and my overall opinion section.
- Author: Richard Lawson
- Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
- Pages: 275
- Goodreads Rating: 3.55
- Author’s First Book
This book revolves around the topic of tragedy and crisis. In the very first few pages of the book, the author sets the scene with the collapse of a major bridge in a very haunting manor. But, the story doesn’t center around the people in the collapse, but rather the family and friends who are waiting to hear back about their loved ones. The story follows multiple teenager characters- Jason, Alexa, Scott, Skyler and occasionally others. The story jumps through these point of views as they meet together in the hospital and all they can do is wait.
I love that the story starts and ends in the same place- the hospital waiting room. Throughout the story, you learn each about character, who they’re waiting for, how they got there and some important backstory. Occasionally, they cut back to the group waiting in the hospital, but a lot of the development is centered on before the crisis.
I loved the characters in this book. They had a lot going on which made them very complex and I enjoyed how different they were.
Alexa and Jason are the only two characters who are related: they’re siblings who have some unresolved tension surrounding them. There’s Jason, who all of sudden distanced himself from his sister Alexa who he was once close to and Alexa, who’s frustrated by her older brother’s actions. I found the relationship and secret surrounding them to be one of the most interesting story lines. I was genuinely surprised by the twist but pleasantly happy for reasons I can’t say because I’ll spoil it.
I loved Scott’s story line because it centered on a relationship that’s happening while one character is going to college. It’s an interesting idea, and a troupe that I loved in high school because I had similar fears of worrying if I could still date someone once we graduated. I won’t go into too much detail, but it was nice to have a romantic relationship story line while also having Alexa’s and Jason’s story going on. It was a great contrast.
Skyler’s story was probably my least favorite, but in no way was it bad. It centered on her and her older sister, and as the rest of her family was out of the picture, her older sister acted like a mother to her. She had a lot going on otherwise, but it always seemed like sister would swoop in and save her. Now, her sister’s condition is unknown after she was involved in the bridge collapse.
The constantly changing point of views made this story for me. I love stories that center around one issue and have multiple points of views so we get to see their side. The changing never felt forced or unnecessary, and each point of view had a different feature they were bringing to the book.
The mood and tone of the book is heavy, but not crushingly so. The topics the book covers are intense as they revolve around more than just the tragedy, but the author lightens the story with teenage banter.
The characters occasionally acted immature, but considering they were teenagers at the time and dealing with heavy things, it’s understandable that they would be acting selfishly and being kind of dumb in some situations. Although I don’t think the story is heavily depressing, it does cover serious topics so it’s definitely not a light book either. It’s a Young Adult novel, so it has that hopefully spark behind it as well, especially towards the end.
I think the title plays a lot into the story: it’s a lot of waiting.
The beginning is fast paced and quickly tells the story of the collapse well, but like the title says, a lot of it is waiting for what’s going to happen next. I found the pace to be fine as the backstories filling in the time were interesting and intense, but some may find it slow. The plot is more character-driven with a single event rather than a traditional book structure where there’s multiple plot points leading up to a climax.
I think people get disappointed when they realize the story isn’t really about the bridge collapse, or a very depressing, dramatic ending, but instead waiting. The story is not about the victims, but rather the people involved and their stories, not the victims. I think if you go in with the understanding that this is not a hospital drama, then you’ll love it just fine.
I give this a 4.5 out of a 5. I love the synopsis of this book, the characters were mostly great and had a good solid ending. There was hope behind All You Can Do Is Wait, just enough to be uplifting without being unrealistic. It’s a relatively short read and despite the heavy topics, it flows pretty easily and you’ll quick flip through pages. Overall, a great read.
That concludes my review on All You Can Do Is Wait. This is my first book review on my blog, so I apologize if it’s a little disorganized. I’m very rusty when it comes to writing a book review.
This was one of the few books I actually liked reading in high school as even though I loved English, I was struggling to find books that I loved. This was a perfect mixture of character building and a dramatic story line. Expect to see more book reviews in the future!