Reardon, Robin. “Waiting for Walker”, IAM Books, 2017.
Very Much Worth “Waiting for Walker”
There are a handful of writers that I look for to review their new books and Robin Reardon is one of those. I was stunned by her first book and have remained stunned with her subsequent books. She in able to get into the minds and feelings of her characters and if that is not enough, she shares them with us.
In “Waiting for Walker”, we meet Micah Jaeger who is having a hard time dealing with life. His parents have ended their marriage and his mother seems to be “losing it” and has begun speaking to a medium in order to communicate with Micah’s older brother who was killed in Afghanistan. Now Micah has had to change schools for his junior year and this has caused him to retreat himself and hiding behind his camera and that he’s gay.
Things changed that day in June when he was photographing a dead seagull. A guy suddenly appears on a sailboat and Micah becomes enchanted with him and the image that he left. His name is Walker Donnell and he has managed to become part of Micah’s dreams. Micah learns that Walker is a member of a wealthy family and his life is very different than his own. Before long the two are really into each other but there is something about Walker that Micah does not know and before Walker can disclose what it is, he wants to be sure that all is ok. However, this is something he has never dealt with before and so he retreats within himself. Micah knows that Walker is special and so he bides his time and waits.
As we can guess, Walter is intersex and confused about not just his anatomy but also about his sexuality. To make things even more difficult is that his mother his religious and very protective of her child. Micah is sure that he wants to be with Walker and so he decides to wait and see, still not knowing Walker’s secret.
When I closed the covers of the book, I simply said “WOW!”. Robin Reardon has done it again but I must say she has moved a step a head by tackling a difficult subject and one that requires research. It would probably be impossible to write a book like this without getting the background on intersex people. Walter’s intersexuality means that he has
a chromosomal condition that brings about problems with identity as well as genitalia that are under-developed. leads to combined and underdeveloped We learn early on that Micah identifies himself as gay while Walker is struggling to come to terms with his sexuality and his intersexuality. We gain insight into what this all means. Because this is such a difficult condition to understand, writer Reardon relieves the tension by introducing subplots and so we read about Micah’s brother who went missing in action in Afghanistan and about Walker’s adopted sister. There is the story of the divorce of Micah’s parents, Islam and Micah’s fear of sharks. Now you may wonder what any of these have to do with each other, but do not worry, Reardon knows what she is doing and all comes together as we read.
As I write this, I am still stunned by the strength of this book and how Robin Reardon always manages to hit the nail on the head to give us something more than just a read. Robin Reardon is a fine writer. I always get the feeling that she chooses each word carefully. I cannot help but wonder how many rewrites she went through to bring us this book. What I really love about this novel is the way she took a very complex subject, researched it, and then presented it to her readers in ways that is completely understandable.
This book arrived today along with other books and movies to review. I chose to not even look at what else came and immediately sat down to read about Micah and Walker, skipping lunch and other items on today’s personal agenda. I read right through the day and then began to write this, constantly referring back to the text to make sure that my thoughts were not clouded by the emotions I felt as I read.
On the more personal side, let me tell you about my relationship with Robin who I met for the first time last year. It seems like yesterday that I read her first book, “Throwing Stones” which was published in 2007. I went back to have a look at the review of it that I wrote back then and I see that I used the same words of praise as I do today. I know nothing about her sexuality or her connections with the LGBT community so I understand that whatever she writes comes from her inner being and it is spurred along by her wonderful ability to tell a story. I had no idea what to expect when I first met Robin so anything she did or said was a surprise. What I saw that day, over coffee, in Waltham, Massachusetts was the sincerity of a woman who wants to make this world a better place for everyone and she has done so by giving humanity to her characters, most of whom are LGBT. We need more people like her but it is important that Robin hold onto her special place in the canon of LGBT literature. She is a special treasure.