Book Review: The Waiting Room

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Coined a “multi-generational novel” for fans of The Tiger’s Wife and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, I found The Waiting Room to be a rambling and messy read. It was also not a multi-generational novel. I consider this to be when the story is told by more than one characters’ point-of-view and in each of their own specific points in times of their lives. The Waiting Room is told entirely from the perspective of Dina, over the course of one day, in Haifa, Israel.

Yes, Dina is the child of WWII survivors, her mother having survived the horrors of Bergen-Belsen. However, we are never situated in, or returned to that timeframe, and we don’t ever hear directly from her mother, about her history or the horrors she faced in Bergen-Belsen, told from her point-of-view. Instead, Dina’s mother “haunts” her while standing in the room, talking to her, giving her opinions, etc. Basically, she’s in Dina’s mind. At first, I was confused by this, I thought Dina’s mother was still alive and living with her, but no, it is actually only Dina that can see/hear her. This was written rather confusingly from the start, and is not a well done part to the story.

Dina is a doctor, mother to a young son, pregnant with her second child and married to a man that is very tied to living and remaining in Israel. She is from Melbourne, Australia and is desperate to return, given the current instability and terror attacks in Israel. Dina grows ever-worried with increasing reports of terrorism, but her husband insists that everything will be fine, after all, they are living in Haifa, (because of Dina) and not Jerusalem which was her husband’s preference. When threats of terrorist activity are now being reported in Haifa, Dina becomes increasingly unraveled throughout the day. She’s hassled by her problem patients at the clinic, she is worried about her son at school, she is consumed with wanting to be back in Australia, the heel on her shoe breaks and she’s trying to fit in getting it fixed while tending to her patients. In exasperation, she leaves to see to her broken heel when an explosive event happens back at the clinic.

This whole day is one rambling read. The story begins at the end of the day, where the big event happens, and works backwards to the start of the day. I found how the story started to not be written clearly. Overall, The Waiting Room teemed with excessive writing, had far too much filler, and I never did get a firm grasp on how her mother’s past influenced Dina’s present.

Now, here is where I do have to lament once again about receiving PDF ARCs. They are garbage and make it impossible to read. I need to read a book, not a document I would normally use in work-purposes. I questioned if the lack of my enjoyment for The Waiting Room was because the PDF document was a mess of text. There were no breaks for chapters, only a * delineated where a break may have occurred. I plead with publishers to do away with sending out PDF documents!

Thank you to FSB Associates and Harpers Collins for sending The Waiting Room to us for review.

Literary Hoarders Penny