He’ll Be Waiting
Publication date: April 6th 2021
Genres: Thriller, Young Adult
Momma Says: 4 stars⭐⭐⭐⭐
There are no safe spaces…
When Tess Porter agrees to pick up her boyfriend’s college pal at the airport on a snowy December night, she has no idea she’s about to embark on the most dangerous ride of her life. Two days later, the 17-year-old wakes up in a hospital with broken bones, and unable to remember how she got there. Her parents are acting strangely, and neither James, her boyfriend, nor her best friend Izzy has visited. As she struggles to physically recover, Tess wrestles with haunting questions: What happened? Will her memory ever return? and what if she’s better off not recalling any of it?
He'll Be Waiting is part thriller, part drama, part domestic suspense. It's also a story of teenage love, loss, and moving on. Tess Porter isn't the typical main character you see in so many books. She's not the most popular in school, she's not the perfect daughter, she's not outgoing and ambitious like her parents want her to be. She has insecurities like any teenager, she's an average student who struggles with her grades, she argues and rebels against her parents, and she falls madly in love with a boy - so in love that she overlooks her own safety to do him a favor. Liz Alterman hit the nail on the head with Tess. I can remember being that age and being head over heels for my first love and often putting him before everything else. I can remember the stress of worrying about grades, and I remember thinking my parents couldn't possibly know how I felt. As for the story, the thriller part of the book captured my attention right away and kept me guessing about several things. Some things were easier to figure out than others, but there are some interesting twists. Then we come to the drama, and it's certainly emotional. I don't want to give away the book's secrets, so I'll just say that there were some parts of this one that were hard for me due to some things that have happened in my own life. At the same time, it helped me identify with Tess, who is admittedly years younger than me. That said, I really liked that latter part of the book. I was surprised by how early the suspense comes to a head and even wondered if there was an excerpt from something else at the end, but nope, Alterman didn't wrap it all up right there. Instead, she did something that surprised me. She gave us the what comes after with these characters - dealing with the trauma, moving on, getting back into life, even the outcome for the bad guy. And she does it with just as much story as she spent getting there. By that time, I was pretty well invested in Tess, and I wanted to see where she would land. I mean, how often do you finish a book and wonder what happened next? I do it all the time. He'll Be Waiting gives us those answers. So, this one isn't exactly what I expected from a thriller, but it's no less compelling. It all came together so well, and I'll be interested to see what this author does next.
Liz Alterman lives in New Jersey with her husband and three sons. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Parents, McSweeney’s, and other publications. He’ll Be Waiting is her first young adult novel. When she isn’t writing, she spends most days microwaving the same cup of coffee and looking up synonyms.
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