I read an early version of this as a beta reader for Marie, and from that alone, I can say it's her BEST work to date. Everyone prepare for an incredibly poignant, sweet, heart-melting story! Marie knows how to write swoon-worthy boys for sure, and I can't wait to get my hands on the final version of WAITING FOR THE STORM!
I was a beta reader for Waiting for the Storm, and even in those early stages, I had a special connection to this book. I created a playlist for it while I read, and something about reading such a powerful, emotional story and choosing music for it just...endeared me to Marie's third book. Charlotte and Ezra's story is very special to me, even more so than Nicholas and Emma in Blue Sky Days, Marie's debut novel - which I adored.
Right away, I felt a kinship with Charlotte O'Dell. Reeling from her mother's death, my heart just went out to her. Charlotte is a great example of the sort of main character YA literature - and all fiction literature - needs. She's strong, but knows she needs to do some growing. She's self-aware, but still has all these idiosyncrasies that make her seem so relatable. I spent most of Waiting for the Storm so darned PROUD of Charlotte, although there were times when she broke my heart.
Charlotte isn't the only strong character. Immediately after meeting Ezra, I knew I was going to fall for him just as hard as I had Charlotte. Marie has a way of writing these swoon-worthy male characters that PERFECTLY stride that linen between being awesome, and being too good to be true. Ezra is Charlotte's antithesis in so many ways, ways that end up being really, really good for her. I loved watching their friendship blossom, and my heart melted SO many times during the course of their relationship. The slow progression from friends to more felt totally natural - no cheesy insta-love here! Ezra and Charlotte are so strong together, and I liked that they made one another better.
Waiting for the Storm is Marie's best novel so far. I said it reading an early version, and I'll say it now. She just keeps surprising me. The pacing was amazing in Waiting for the Storm - ebbing and flowing like the ocean Charlotte was staying near during the summer. The secondary characters, even those that didn't have too many appearances, were developed (MAJOR points from me for that,) and the plot tugged at my heart so hard at times. I had some words for Charlotte's sister, who's a terrific antagonist, and a really interesting foil to Charlotte. But even that was slowly, meticulously, yet organically brought to maturation. Marie takes her time with her plots and revelations, yet does so in a way that makes you feel like it's all arriving right on time.
Final Thoughts: Waiting for the Storm is a shining example of why I love YA contemporary novels. It's a story about learning to live again, and a story about having hope that you'll meet whatever life holds for you. From the characters, to the romance, I FELT so much, and that's why I'll continue to read Marie's books.