Title: Waiting for Walker
Author: Robin Reardon
Publisher: IAM Books
Length: 431 Pages
Category: Teen Fiction
At a Glance: Waiting for Walker is an exceptional novel that is intelligently written, compelling to read, and emotionally charged. I highly recommend it to you.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Micah Jaeger’s life is a mess. His folks have split, and his mother is seeing a medium to communicate with Micah’s older brother, killed in Afghanistan. He had to change schools for his junior year, which made him retreat further into himself, hiding behind his camera—and hiding that he’s gay.
One sunny day in June, as he’s shooting a dead seagull on the shore of Long Island Sound, a mysterious guy appears in a beautiful sailboat. At first, the guy’s boat shoes are the image that stays with Micah. But soon it’s the person himself, Walker Donnell, who haunts Micah’s dreams.
Walker’s life looks perfect to Micah. His wealthy parents adore him. He has everything he could want. He’s gorgeous and generous. And he falls hard for Micah. But he has a secret: Walker is intersex.
The closer Walker and Micah grow, the more Walker feels the need to be sure of himself in ways he hasn’t fully faced before, and now it’s his turn to retreat. Micah knows Walker is worth waiting for, so he waits. And waits.
Review: Honestly, I am a bit overwhelmed even at the thought of writing the review for this amazing piece of fiction. Waiting for Walker by Robin Reardon is perhaps one of the most sensitive and compelling stories I have read, to this day, about intersex and gay youth. We get both an amazing education about what it means and feels to be intersex, and also walk away from this story with a keen awareness of what it looks like when teenagers confront their own doubts about their sexuality. We watch as two boys grapple with first love and what that means realistically and we are schooled on how our insensitivity and, yes, fears about physical differences have a devastating affect on those who live their lives, every day, dealing with a body that is both male and female, and how confusing that can be for them. However, beyond all that, we are given a rich and beautiful story about two teens who simply want to discover if they can love and be loved, and it is done so very well—written so brilliantly!
Done from the viewpoint of a sixteen-year-old boy who is fighting off multiple troubling life circumstances himself, Micah is unsure of most things in his life, especially the boy who sails into his life and upsets it in so many ways. Walker is rich and gorgeous and lonely, just like Micah. Well, in terms of loneliness, anyway. You see these two boys could not be more opposite, financially or personally. Micah’s parents are divorced, driven apart by their differences in how they grieved over their oldest son being lost in combat. Walker’s parents, on the other hand, could not be more stable, relationally or in love. Micah’s mother is currently seeing a psychic, who has told her Micah’s brother is still alive. His father has started dating again, and is not overwhelmingly supportive when Micah finally blurts out that he is gay. Dealing with a mother who is insensitive (she tells Micah that when his brother finally comes home, he will have to leave and live with his Dad, for she won’t have room for him and his brother) and fairly erratic, behavior-wise, and a father who is trying his best but often sticks his foot in his mouth, more often than not, Micah just wants to be left alone with his camera—until he meets Walker.
While Walker seems to have the best of all possible worlds, we quickly discover he has more than his fair share of problems as well, which includes an ultra-religious mother, a mean-hearted and bitter adopted older sister, and a cousin who is pure and simply a bully. The two boys quickly find that they like each other, and as we watch them fumble through the beginnings of an early relationship, we are stunned to discover that Walker is hiding a secret that may end their summer romance before it has a chance to start. When Walker bravely shares his secret with Micah, both boys will be faced with decisions that will affect the rest of their lives. Walker, despite the hormone treatments, struggles with whether or not he is gay, or is that his feminine side taking the lead? Micah is gay and really likes Walker, but what if Walker decides he isn’t necessarily gay? What does that mean for the two of them? So many questions dance around what is a decided attraction between the two boys, and make it just that much more difficult. When things suddenly change drastically, and Micah’s life is dealt yet another strange blow, at the same time Walker is yanked away by a frightened parent. The future for the two boys becomes most decidedly unsure.
I know this choppy synopsis does little justice to this incredible novel, but I fear I have already given a bit too much away. Let me tell you what was so outstanding about this story. First is the clear and careful way it dealt with educating the reader about intersex individuals—their feelings and how they grapple with who they are, and what that means when thinking about being in a relationship. There were times when my heart just broke for Walker—not only his shame over his physical appearance and having to explain to others about it, but his deep sense of questioning about whether or not he was a gay male. Robin Reardon gave her young men such unique and realistic voices; these are kids who need their parents, who deal with every day problems, some so unique that it set them apart. I never felt as though these were fictional boys; they were as real as the folks who lived next door.
If my heart broke for Walker, it was wrung out for Micah. When he admits to himself that he had hoped that his parents would reconcile—oh my, that was just so terribly sad. Yet, there was a resilience within both these boys that carried the day, and gives you such hope. We are privy to every doubt and question Micah has about himself, Walker, and their potential for a future together. I loved how the author allowed us to see the struggle within, and kept it realistic to the end.
Waiting for Walker is an exceptional novel that is intelligently written, compelling to read, and emotionally charged. I highly recommend it to you.
You can buy Waiting for Walker here: