Title: The Waiting Tree
Author: Lindsay Moynihan
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Amazon Children’s Publishing
Source: Amazon Vine
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Page Count: 218 (paperback ARC)
Rating: [4/5 stars]
Eighteen-year-old Simon Peters wants to stand up for the truth about who he is. His love for Stephen is unwavering, but does he have the courage to defend it when his entire church community, including his eldest brother has ostracized him? Trapped in a cashier’s job he hates, struggling to maintain peace with his brothers after their parents have died, and determined to look after his mute brother, Simon puts everyone else’s needs before his own. It takes a courageous act of self-sacrifice on Jude’s part to change both of their lives forever. Jude, who knew that when the fig tree in their yard began to bloom, it was his time to finally be heard and to set Simon free. (summary from goodreads)
When I read the summary for THE WAITING TREE, I thought the book would be about Simon’s difficulty in being gay in a community where Being Gay Is Not Acceptable. In part, that’s some of the story, but Simon also has a lot of other problems. THE WAITING TREE is his journey of self-discovery.
Simon and his three brothers were orphaned after their parents died in a car accident. Simon didn’t even get to finish high school. Instead, to help out financially, he had to get a job at a place that’s very reminiscent of a certain big blue retailer. Simon works nights because during the day he watches his twin brother, Jude. Jude has never spoken a word in his life and can’t take care of himself. On top of everything else, Simon lives in an economically dead and conservative town, so there aren’t a lot of options. And the very worst part? His boyfriend, Stephen, was sent to a “de-gay” center after Stephen’s dad found the two having sex.
THE WAITING TREE is not a cheerful book. It is realistic and gritty, but also hopeful. I think a lot of teens will empathize with all the burdens Simon has. Times are tough for teens and young adults (and everyone else), and I think readers will understand what Simon is going through. They might even feel like they’re going through the same sort of thing themselves — overwhelmed by everything, and just getting through day by day.
And that’s exactly what Simon’s doing — living day by day. His main concern is Jude. Second is his love for Stephen. As I read THE WAITING TREE, I was both sad and hopeful, and I enjoyed seeing Simon eventually realize he couldn’t just sit back and shuffle through life, that he had to take steps if he wanted to change things.
I would have liked to see what happened when Simon went to get Stephen. The ending was my least favorite part because it was open ended; I’m the type of reader who likes closure. But otherwise, I enjoyed the book, and I don’t think I put it down while reading. It’s not a very long book (the ARC is 218 pages) so it’s easy to finish it in one or two sessions.
Simon and Jude stole my heart, and when Jude made a very painful decision, I actually said, “No, don’t do it!” As for what that decision was, you’ll have to read THE WAITING TREE to find out, which I recommend you do. Although it’s a Young Adult book, I think adults would enjoy it too. As I said, it’s not a cheerful book — there’s a lot of bad stuff going on I didn’t mention — but I think the message behind the book is a good one.