BOOK REVIEW: The Waiting Game by Jess Thompson

The Waiting gameTHE WAITING GAME
By Jessica Thompson
Publisher: Cornet
Publication Date: 13th August 2015
Format: Paperback (326 pages)
Source: Review Copy

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? (Goodreads)


When reading the synopsis of The Waiting Game, I had a pre-conception that it would maybe about a woman trying to make a life after the death of her husband. Although the book does deal with some of the issues around this subject, it ended up being something completely different. I did find the book really enjoyable, but there was a few issues I had which kind of pulled me out of the story.

The title has a bit of double meaning because the main character Nessa, seems to be constantly playing The Waiting Game. First it is waiting on her husband returning from war and then it is waiting for word on whether he is alive or dead. This plot line, for me, was such a driving force of the book and it shed some light on to the families who are left behind while their loved ones are off fighting. Nessa, for all intents and purposes was a single parent, raising a typically stroppy teenager.

My heart went out to Nessa and when her husband disappeared, I felt her anguish and you could see her struggle to try to keep things together for the sake of her daughter. Thankfully she does have the support of her teenage crush and best friend Will, who is a rock throughout these trials.

While normally I would be rooting for the two unrequited lovers to get together, for some reason I just wasn’t as invested in this plotline. I’m not sure if it was due to the fact that Nessa was at a very difficult time in her life, but I could not root for the two of them to get together. She was also still very much still in love with her husband and I couldn’t see her getting over him and move on to Will.

Nessa’s relationship with her daughter, Poppy showcased that difficult teenage daughter/mother relationship. Poppy seems to look down on the choices her mother has made with her life. Even though Nessa has made numerous sacrifices so that she can give both Poppy the best she can, while also supporting her husband’s ambitions. It comes across that Poppy is very much a daddy’s girl and sees her mother as the enemy, so the loss of her father really hits Poppy hard. She lashes out; putting more pressure on Nessa and the way she deals with her is admirable.

The conclusion of the book was so bittersweet, but it suited the book perfectly. It left Nessa in a place that could help her move on from such a difficult situation.


Whether this was my expectations influencing my feelings, I can’t be sure. Had I known that this was more of contemporary fiction book, prior to going into the book, I may have enjoyed it more. However I have to say that Thompson really has a gift in creating a well rounded and complex character. The quotes on the cover compare her to David Nichols and his book One Day, but she more than deserves this comparison.
4 star







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