This week, we look at Emily Bleeker’s The Waiting Room. I’ve known Emily for a few years now, first getting curious about her when I saw her debut book WRECKAGE all over the place. Since then, we’ve become Facebook friends and brought each other into a few groups that we were each in.
In The Waiting Room, we encounter three characters – Veronica Shelton – our primary protagonist-, another woman, and a man. All three will come to intersect in this explosive examination of womens’ mental health and in particular the damage losing a child can wreak on the female psyche. Veronica is dealing with the death of her husband months earlier, just weeks after she gave birth to their daughter. And she has post partum depression so severe that she can’t even touch her daughter, so her mother has moved in to help take care of the baby. This part of the book is perhaps the darkest, most difficult section – but also a very real examination of this issue, at least as real as this man can imagine it would be. And it is this grounding that gives this tale its early gravitas, much like the titular wreck in Bleeker’s debut novel Wreckage just a couple of years ago.
But as we have come to expect with any Bleeker book – this being her fourth -, things are not always as they seem, and that begins becoming apparent about halfway into the book, when Veronica discovers that not only has someone been in her house taking pictures of her baby, but now her baby is missing – and her mother refuses to help her find her baby. This is about the point that the book summary stops, so I’ll reveal nothing further about the story other than to note that the story gains is true heft and power in the back half of the book. The front half, dealing with post partum depression, is deep in itself, but the front part of the book is more the edge of a continental shelf in the ocean, and the back half is the abyssal plain – far deeper and at times even more fascinating.
One particular line stood out in the book, and out of context it gives away nothing, so I’ll share it here because I like it so much: “Sometimes you run away from the flames, and other times you stay and help put out the fire.” In the end, that line effectively comes to summarize the entire book without really giving anything away about the back half.
Yet again, Bleeker has hit another home run, an absolute 5 star read no matter your scale. Very highly recommended, and I’m genuinely glad I was among the first to preorder.
And as always, the Goodreads/ Amazon:
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