Book · Book Review

Book Review: Waiting


Yes, true lovers don’t have to stay together looking at each other all the time; they look and move in the same direction.

Waiting is a story of marriage, divorce and relationship. The main character, Lin Kong is an unhappy married man to a simple country girl, Shuyu whom his parents chose for him. Lin Kong never really loved Shuyu, what he felt for her is pure obligation brought about by the wish of his parents who had high regards of Shuyu. Hua is their daughter who have grown aloof of her own father throughout the story due to the latter have repeatedly hurt and humiliate their family by asking her Mother Shuyu for a divorce, numerous times.

This divorce is all rooted to the relationship that Lin Kong have developed with a younger Nurse in the hospital he is working for, as a Doctor in the city. She is Manna Wu. Lin didn’t really wanted to get involved with Manna but it was her who made ways to get close with Lin. Their relationship can be compared to that of what friends would have; but with more love and deeper emotion. All throughout their relationship, they never sleep together, nor kissed each other, not even hug. They were bound by rules set by the institution they work for, and so “Waiting” is what they did.

For over a decade, Lin Kong would spend his summer in Goose Village where Shuyu and Hua lives and would ask Shuyu for a divorce. Every year Shuyu would agree but once inside the courthouse, she’ll start to cry or would fall into silence and they would always go home, still married, Lin feeling a bit more devastated. This devastation was shared by Manna who always hopes for a divorce each time Lin would leave for the country.

In China those years (60s), there is a law that allows married couples to have divorce (with or without the consent of the other) if proven there have been no love between the couple for 18 years. This is how Lin got away with her marriage with Shuyu. After the divorce, he married Manna who later on gave birth to twin boys. After she gave birth, Manna was diagnosed to have a heart ailment and that cure is out of the question. Once he married Manna, Lin suddenly questioned his love for Manna and the reason why they waited. He would start to question how deep his love for her and would always reassure himself that it is indeed, love they’ve waited for.

The ending is an open-ended one, which readers were left hanging and concluding their own ending. It ends with Lin, Manna and Hua preparing for the Spring Festival where Hua told his Father that Shuyu will wait for him. This was brought about by Lin  Kong’s visit the other night to Hua and Shuyu’s place (they both moved to the city after the divorce) and Lin got drunk that resulted in him saying stuffs like “Oh Shuyu, forgive me, I did this to you.  Oh forgive me. Manna is dying. You should wait for me.. ” in which Shuyu took to heart.

Hua told her Father that Shuyu will wait for him but Lin told her daughter that she should tell her Mother to NOT wait for him as he is a miserable man.

Overall, I’d rate this book 4 out of 5 stars. I love books that doesn’t use superfluous words and phrases just to get to its point. And Ha Jin is not that kind of author, reason why I liked this book. It has this power over me that got me hooked from the very first line, which is about the yearly pleading of Lin Kong for a divorce.

It got me thinking why did he want a divorce that bad that he would spend his summer vacation pleading to his wife and in court for a divorce.

This book is recommended to all married couples and un-married couples because the other one is married. Who else would enjoy the content of this book if not for them. Also, I think this is suitable to people who have high regards for marriage and the Holy Matrimony. I guess it’s high time people embrace this fact in our modern lives today and divorce is part of it. There’s just no use staying in a relationship that doesn’t grow, doesn’t nurture, doesn’t love.

If you’re (unhappily) married and is weighing your options if divorce is for you, you should read this. If your partner is married and can’t find ways to get divorced, this is for you. If your parents are divorced, getting a divorce or in the process of, this book is for you.

Waiting is about relationships and how people tend to take for granted the things that they have. It is about love and how people fight for it. How people wait for it. Works for it to work. Waiting will make you wonder if what and who you have now, is really the one you’ve waited for, your whole life.


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