A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that All We Can Do Is Wait is an edgy coming-of-ager that explores grief, death, fear, friendship, love, family, and more. The plot centers on teens waiting in an emergency room to learn the fate of loved ones missing after a bridge collapse involving massive casualties; death, fear of the unknown, and grief are prominent themes. Other violence includes memories of an abuser who slams the girl into a mirror, grabs hard enough to leave dark bruises, and throws things. Blood's mentioned a few times along with some injuries, but there's no gore and no detail. Sexually active teens, in same-sex and opposite-sex couples, mention kissing, making out, and having sex, but nothing's described in detail. A gay character struggles with hiding his true self and coming out to his family. Strong language includes "s—t," "f—k," "tits," and more. A few characters drink heavily and regularly use marijuana and regulated drugs like Adderall and Xanax. Drinking at parties or while hanging out is frequently mentioned. A minor character smokes, and two teens share an electronic cigarette. Positive messages reinforce the need for people to be there for each other in bad times, and not to be afraid of the future but to face whatever it has in store for you.
What's the story?
In ALL WE CAN DO IS WAIT, a group of teens gathers in a Boston emergency room, each waiting to learn the fate of loved ones when a busy road bridge over the Mystic River collapses. As the wait drags on over many hours, the teens get to know one another bit by bit: who they're waiting for, what their lives are like, what events in the past have shaped them, and what they hope for the future. As they worry about the present and the future, they remember past events, exploring a wide range of emotions and experiences. But can they learn how to face grief, love, fear, determination, friends, family, and lives that will never be the same?
Is it any good?
Richard Lawson's debut is an edgy, compelling, unique, and moving tapestry of teens' lives and emotions. All We Can Do Is Wait plunks a group of teens into the not-terribly-interesting setting of a hospital waiting room and allows the drab backdrop to fade away as the spotlight shines on each character, taking them in turns while also weaving back and forth in time. There's always something to keep the pages turning, whether it's what happened that fateful summer or what happened to a sister who was driving across the bridge the moment it collapsed.
Although some characters are more likable than others, we can all feel empathy for them as they go through what for many of us is our worst nightmare realized. And amid all the grief, fear, and anxiety there's also a lot of hope for what we can become, and how we can get through the tough times together. Best for mature teens and up who can handle some of the edgy content involving alcohol, marijuana, and sex.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the drinking and drug use in All We Can Do Is Wait. Is it realistic? Are there any realistic consequences?
How much strong language is OK in books, movies, TV, etc.? Is it a big deal?
Which characters or messages resonated with you the most? Were any unrealistic, or hard to believe? What's your biggest takeaway about family, friendship, facing uncertainty?
- Author: Richard Lawson
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Razorbill
- Publication date: February 6, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 288
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: December 13, 2018
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.