Colleen Mondor Reviews Wait for Me by Sara Shepard
Wait for Me, Sara Shepard (Union Square & Co. 978-1-4549-4577-2, $18.99, hc, 320pp) November 2022. Cover by Erin Fitzsimmons.
Sara Shepard’s Wait for Me is a thriller that might be about ghosts and reincarnation or might be about an unreliable protagonist struggling with mental illness and some well-meaning but seriously intrusive friends and relatives. I was really onboard with the reincarnation angle, which includes an undying romance, until I was really onboard with the mental illness angle, which includes a slightly suspicious romance. Then I didn’t know what to think but was all-in on the thriller angle and where that might take me (as it turns out, all the way to the final pages). This is a fast and satisfying read as Shepard keeps you guessing for much of the way. The twists in particular are well done here, and Casey Rhodes, the protagonist who might be many different things, is a confused but determined character that you root for from start to finish.
In the novel’s opening pages, after a mysterious prologue that is heavy with foreshadowing, Casey is introduced as a smart, young scholarship student at NYU with a boyfriend who happens to be mega-rich and apparently head over heels for her. The ‘‘apparently’’ part is a problem; Casey can’t understand why Marcus chose to date her, and the power inbalance in their relationship, which especially permeates their social interactions, is a real problem for her. Shepard provides some backstory on the couple, and Casey’s friendship with her roommate and her family, before sending the narrative in a whole different direction when Casey begins hearing voices. Completely freaked out, she runs away from her life for a few days, and ends up in a beach town named Avon Shores that seems oddly familiar. The novel takes another turn there when Casey meets Jake, who insists he knows her and to whom she is inexplicably drawn. That’s when the reincarnation twist asserts itself, and Wait for Me asks readers to believe that maybe all of this is possible and the voices can help Casey uncover (and possibly correct) a past wrong. And maybe Jake is tied to that past as well, and maybe Avon Shores is where Casey needs to be to set things right, and maybe… well, get ready for another twist because maybe none of this is what it looks like at all.
Wait for Me is fun in the best kind of ‘‘I don’t know where this is going but want to find out’’ kind of way. Just as Casey is constantly having to shift when her circumstances change, so are readers forced to question what each new revelation means. There are lots of folks telling lies, lots of murky history to wade through and romantic entanglements that are either meant to be or 100% not a good idea. There’s old-school sleuthing and plenty of second-guessing as the race to get to the truth (which includes some time at a psychiatric facility), takes readers from one shocking moment to another. Never doubt the thriller aspect of this novel – Wait for Me totally delivers on that score – and plan your night accordingly. You won’t want to put it down until the final quite satisfying end.
Colleen Mondor, Contributing Editor, is a writer, historian, and reviewer who co-owns an aircraft leasing company with her husband. She is the author of “The Map of My Dead Pilots: The Dangerous Game of Flying in Alaska” and reviews regularly for the ALA’s Booklist. Currently at work on a book about the 1932 Mt. McKinley Cosmic Ray Expedition, she and her family reside in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. More info can be found on her website: www.colleenmondor.com.
This review and more like it in the January 2023 issue of Locus.
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