25 August 2015

Blog Tour Book Review: The Waiting Game by Jessica Thompson

"'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 hope 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?"

Rating: 5/5

Available to buy now.

Jessica Thompson's new book The Waiting Game is one that I have been really excited to read for quite a while now. I have read and loved each of her books to date, so I was thrilled to be sent a copy of her latest book for review. I firstly want to comment on the cover - what a stunning cover it is! The title is in foil as well, so stands out even more - the whole thing is just stunning and that alone would make me want to dive in and start reading!

The book mainly follows one character, Nessa, as she comes to terms with her husband Jake disappearing after returning from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Nessa grieves for her husband, struggling to cope with life after he has gone, especially with her teenage daughter Poppy being hard to handle. However, the story in this is delicately handled by Thompson, and it is a joy to read, keeping you totally absorbed in Nessa and Jake's tale, and wondering how it is all going to come to an end.

The narrative for this story jumps around in time, and you have to pay attention to the dates at the start of each chapter to work out where we are now. I really enjoyed this - it gives us an insight into the early relationship of Nessa and Jake, as well as the blossoming friendship between Nessa and her best friend Will. I liked getting to know a different time in Nessa's life, before the tragedy hits her and she's altered by her grief. The pace was good as well, and it kept me wanting to read more and find out what was going to happen next. The book does progress well, giving you everything you would want from this book and more, and I just couldn't help being drawn into Nessa's world, and feeling her anger, grief and confusion along with her.

One character that I struggled to warm to was teenager Poppy. The language coming out of the mouth of a young girl, especially directed at her mother, was appalling and I felt a bit uncomfortable reading it. I know teenagers swear, but I was brought up never to use bad language at your elders, and this just didn't sit well with me at all, and I wanted to give her a stern talking to! The relationship between Nessa and Poppy was very fraught, neither really knowing how to deal with their feelings or to treat each other, and Thompson makes this believable as you read it, certainly not an easy mother/daughter relationship but one that is damaged by their joint loss. I did, however, like the flawed characters, each coping with an awful situation, making questionable decisions and acting in ways we perhaps wouldn't, struggling just to keep afloat in a new world for them - one without Jake.

I really don't want to comment too much on Jake's story, because the beauty of it is reading it unfold slowly in the context of the story. I really felt sorry for Jake, a soldier struggling to come to terms with a tragic event, and we certainly see Jake as a hero - a good father, husband, son and someone who gives his all for his country. This is a beautiful story to read, with lots of complex relationships going on, and dealing with a sensitive and topical issue so wonderfully too. Thompson's writing brings to life the story, the characters and in particular, the emotion of the book - I felt like I was feeling all of Nessa's emotions along with her, particularly towards the end of the book. I can't say I was entirely happy at the end of the book, it felt a bit sudden to me but overall, I enjoyed every page and am already eagerly anticipating Jessica's next book! Brilliant - a must read.

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