Simon is gay in a small town where being different is enough to have you shunned from society. When he's caught with Stephen by Stephen's dad, Simon's life changes in the worst way. Even his brother Paul has a hard time accepting him.
Let's be real: Simon's life sucks. It actually depressed me a little because I couldn't see very much of a bright side to the story. Simon has an awful job, didn't finish high school, his parents are dead, his brother is an idiot, his twin brother needs extra help and attention that Simon's unable to completely provide and his best friend has been sent away. The whole situation was uninspiring because it just seems to get worse every day.
I couldn't connect with Simon because our lives are so different. So much of the racist and homophobic crap he has to deal with doesn't exist where I live, at least so blatantly. I have no doubt that there are garbage people who say garbage things but living in possibly one of the most multicultural communities in the world where there are so many religions, ethnicities, and cultures, I couldn't believe the way they treated Simon. If anyone has to experience that I feel for them but there's a better world out there; they just need to find it.
Simon himself was meant to be someone I sympathized and I did, but I didn't connect with him. I have never experienced the influence of a church or felt ostracized for any reason. I also couldn't get a grip on Simon's character. The one trait that defined him was that he cared more about others than himself and that trait was a little bit forcefully fed to the reader as the supporting characters kept saying it. I didn't feel like Simon had much of a personality. Those little details that make people real— maybe they listen to a certain type of music, watch TV or have an online life— just weren't there.
That's something I wondered a lot when reading The Waiting Tree. Where was the technology? This book was written with the intention of being gritty and realistic so does it take place a while ago? The reason I ask is that technology is integrated to the life of every teen. Even if you can't afford internet there is WiFi. Libraries offer free internet access and through the internet there are communities and resources that could have been beneficial to Simon. If there isn't a group you feel you relate with in reality, you can hang out with one online. So that bugged me just because I wanted this story to be realistic not just in the bad ways but the good ways too and I don't feel like that happened.
The other thing to consider is this is not my usual type of book so I wasn't very into it. It never drew me in and that's because I don't usually read these types of books for a reason. I rarely read contemporary that isn't intensely tragic; life lessons aren't my thing. Life in jeopardy is. That's just the type of reader I am. I didn't enjoy reading The Waiting Tree and I felt like the ending was abrupt and not as enlightening as it was meant to be.
So, this book gets 1 star. It just wasn't my type of read because I couldn't relate to it. I wouldn't discourage anyone from trying The Waiting Tree if it seems like the type of book you'd enjoy.