“Waiting for You”

Waiting for You by Susane Colasanti   waiting for you

Marisa has had the hots for Derek for a long time and she has the opportunity to pounce when he breaks up with his girlfriend—even though he seems to be still connected to that other girl. Nash is Marisa’s old friend and neighbor, who for years has shared conversations at the end of a dock. He’s smart but geeky. Somehow, the two drifted from one another, but find themselves hanging out again when Nash is able to help Marisa with her homework.

So—you can guess the rest. Nash admits that he has the hots for Marisa. But he’s uncool, she’s not feeling it. Who, really, is boyfriend material here?

I’ve been ordering several of Colasanti’s books for my libraries, and thought I should read one, see if I could talk it up.  Girls are always asking for good romances, and Colasanti writes romance. But here’s my problem: I think, deep down, I just may hate YA romance. And this makes it hard for me to help girls pick out a good one.

Waiting for You drove me crazy on many levels. The story is a formula romance—if you don’t know what is going to happen after chapter one, you probably are pretending to be reading while texting. I’m someone who doesn’t like knowing exactly what will take place in a book. Even the big secret Internet radio star Dirty Dirk—am I really not supposed to know—immediately—who this is?

Then there is the writing. Instead of using the usual tags of “I said” or “she said” at the end of a line of dialogue, Colasanti uses “I go” and “he goes.” I know that people talk this way, and talking this way doesn’t bother me in the least. But reading this—along with the many “I was, like, surprised” doesn’t work for me. It jerks my attention out of the story to notice that tag line, that ‘like.’ Reading is not the same as participating in a conversation. Author, don’t pull me out of the story to acknowledge how cool you are with the hip language. Just—stop it and let me fall for the characters.

OK—I want to say that if you are looking for a formula romance  in which you know what’s coming and that the ending will be happy, Waiting for You is your book. And that sounds so snotty because it has the sense that such a story is not worth reading. But the thing is, such a story is worth reading—if that’s what you’re looking for. And looking for that story is great. Because reading should be pleasurable. So, I don’t want to be snotty. I just want you to know that this is that book, and that Colasanti has several similar titles if you get hooked. Fans of Simone Elkeles have raced through all of her books in our library. If you are someone who has also read all of Elkeles’s books, move on to Colasanti. I think you’ll enjoy her as well.

I take it back—I don’t really hate YA romance. I have enjoyed Sarah Dessen’s books because she strikes me as fresh, a good writer. And I loved This is What Happy Looks Like. It was very sweet, and I’m looking forward to more from the author, Jennifer E. Smith. I guess I’m just seeking more writers like those two. So that I can share them with our romance-crazed teens and be honest in saying I loved them.

There. It’s not the judgmental thing I’m after. Writing is a tough gig, and anyone who succeeds in being published deserves plenty of credit for perseverance. What I’m really after is the honest enthusiasm I feel for a book I can’t put down. I’ll keep looking for that in teen romances.

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About Victoria Waddle

I'm a high school librarian, formerly an English teacher. I love to read and my mission is to connect people with the right books. To that end, I read widely--from the hi-lo for reluctant high school readers to the literary adult novel for the bibliophile.
This entry was posted in Family Problems, Fiction, Romance, Young Adult Literature and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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