Saturday, 29 August 2015

BLOG TOUR: The Waiting Game - Jessica Thompson


Nessa Bruce waits for her husband to come through the double doors. She'd waited for him to return home from Afghanistan for what felt like forever, and now the moment was finally here. But Jake isn't... Jake Bruce hasn't come home, and it looks like he never will.

Nessa's life - and that of her daughter Poppy - is turned upside down in an instant. What has happened to the elusive man at the centre of their world? They hold onto the hope that he is still out there somewhere, alive... but as time passes by, Nessa is forced to look at her life, at the decisions she has made and the secrets she has kept. For maybe somewhere within it all lies the answer to the question she's desperate to answer - where is the man she loves?

If you like the sound of The Waiting Game from the blurb, then read on for an exclusive extract followed by my review.  Thanks to Rebecca Mundy from Hodder for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for this amazing book.

*****

The Waiting Game by Jessica Thompson: Exclusive Extract
The darkness enveloped them beyond the trees like a thick, impenetrable blanket. A small glow was emitted by the fire, which was now burning down to its embers. Nessa lay reluctantly in Jake’s arms inside the sleeping bag, beneath the roof of his makeshift shelter. He held her close, but her body language was cold.
‘Do you have any idea how angry I am with you Jake, how hurt I am?’ Nessa whispered, burrowing herself further down in the sleeping bag to stop the cooler evening breeze making her neck cold and ruining the toasty environs they’d created.
Jake said nothing, his gentle breathing the only sound coming from him.
‘Poppy and I . . . we basically held a funeral for you. Do you even realise that? We had to cope with losing the person we love more than anything in the world. Do you not get that?’ Nessa cried.
‘Of course I do,’ Jake said, softly.
‘We had to try and adapt to life without you. And your mum, your poor mum . . . It’s been horrendous Jake, losing you. I simply can’t believe you put us through it,’ she cried, starting to weep as she spoke. Nessa considered scrabbling out of the sleeping bag and getting away from him, but something was keeping her there.
‘I’m so sorry . . . I’ve been thinking about you all the time, seriously, every second of my day. I knew it would be tough, of course I did, but it was all I could do. I had no other choice,’ Jake said, resolutely, stroking Nessa’s hair with his free hand, his touch warming her body.
‘No other choice? Are you fucking insane?’ Nessa asked, half-sitting up now and staring at him.
‘And all this good deed bullshit you’ve been doing. What the fuck were you thinking?’ Nessa asked, pausing and scanning her surroundings, gathering her thoughts so that she could work out what to say next.
Jake flinched as she spoke, as if experiencing pain with each word that tumbled from her lips.
‘Oh my god . . . Hold on a minute,’ Nessa said, thinking aloud. ‘Poppy, that night she got drunk . . . Was it? Was it you that carried her home that night?’ Nessa asked, a look of horror upon her face.
Jake nodded, shame etched across his face.
‘Brilliant. Absolutely bloody brilliant. So we’ve all been telling her that she’s having psychotic delusions for no reason at all! Well that’s just fucking fantastic,’ Nessa spat, trembling with rage.
‘Yes . . . that was me,’ Jake whispered. ‘I was in the area doing some things for you guys, stuff to help you out, and I actually saw her by pure chance, staggering around outside the bowling alley and then collapsing on the floor. She was ridiculously drunk and all her friends had just pissed off.

What else was I supposed to do? Leave her there? She’s my little girl for god’s sake!’ Jake cried.

*****

My review
This was an absolute pleasure to read, although with such a heart-breaking storyline that I admit to shedding tears from about half way through right to the very end. The storyline is completely believable and delved into highly emotional subjects such as depression and suicide.

Writing a book about a character returning from a tour in Afghanistan was always going to be emotional. The torment that Jake is going through is also experienced by too many of the brave men and women of our armed forces. Jake may be broken but the real Jake is still inside of him and the love he has for his family shines through every page.

I loved the close friendship between Nessa and Will, something that could have been more than friendship on several occasions if the stars had aligned. It was lovely that Nessa had Will in her life when she was going through the difficult period following Jake’s disappearance.

Jake’s parents, Betsy and Mick, were really endearing characters and Mick’s Alzheimer’s was portrayed with such realism that my heart went out to them. His moments of clarity were becoming rarer and there’s a moment of clarity that isn’t recognised as such, which was an absolutely beautiful touch.

Nessa and Jake’s teenage daughter, Poppy, was portrayed both understandably angry and vulnerable and I alternated between wanting to slap her and hug her. It was sometimes shocking the way that she treated Nessa but it’s so realistic as we always lash out at those closest to us.

I can’t write any more without spoiling the book for others, but this is an excellent book and one that will mean so much to anyone linked with the armed forces.  I have already passed my copy on to my cousin who also did a tour of Afghanistan and I'm sure The Waiting Game will do its own tour within her regiment.

It’s a love story and a sad story; a story of family, love and loss that will appeal to all readers and I will definitely be adding more of Jessica Thompson's books to my reading pile.

I received this book from the publisher, Coronet, via Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:



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