Author: Leah Kaminsky
Published: November 2016, Harper Perennial
Format: ARC Paperback, 320 pages
Leah Kaminsky’s powerful fiction debut—a multi-generational novel perfect for fans of The Tiger’s Wife and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena—unfolds over a day in the life of a young physician in contemporary Israel, who must cope with modern threats in the shadow of her parents’ horrific wartime pasts.
A young doctor in Haifa, Israel, must come to terms with her family’s painful past—and its lingering aftermath—as the conflict between Palestine and Israel reaches its height and the threat of a terrorist attack looms over the city....
Born to two survivors in the smoky after-haze of WWII, Dina has never been able to escape her parents’ history. Tortured by memories of Bergen-Belsen, her mother leaves Dina to inherit her decades of trauma.
Dina desperately anchors herself in family—a cherished young son, a world-weary husband, and a daughter on the way—and her work as a doctor, but she is struggling to cope, burdened by both the very real anxieties of her daily life and also the shadows of her parents’ ghosts, who follow her wherever she goes. A witty, sensitive narrator, she fights to stay grounded in the here-and-now, even as the challenges of motherhood and medicine threaten to overwhelm her.
In taut, compelling prose, The Waiting Room weaves between Dina’s exterior and interior lives, straddling the present and the past—and building towards a profoundly dramatic climax that will remind readers of the fragility of human life even as it reassures them of the inescapable power of love and family.
My thoughts: This is not my usual type of read, but every once in a while, I am drawn to books that stretch me as a reader, and this is definitely that type of book. While it is still fiction - my usual type of read - this is the first fiction novel from physician and best-selling non-fiction writer Leah Kaminsky.
This is a short, yet powerful book about the day-in-the-life of a young doctor living in Israel. We see Dina struggle with the decisions she has made in her life - both personally and professionally. She is eight months pregnant and while married, seems to be struggling with that as well. Nothing seems to be going easy for her at the moment and her mother's ghost doesn't seem to be helping matters - always adding her two cents, always following her wherever she goes.
The dialogue between Dina and her mother were something else. At times they were a bit funny, but at other times they were quite stressful. You just never knew where the mother was going to go with her ramblings. But these ramblings were a great way to tie in the past with the present - quite clever, in fact!
This book left me a bit unsettled to be honest - more so than I've even been after reading a fiction book. This was definitely due to the subject matter and not because of the writing itself. I enjoyed Leah Kaminsky's writing style and can't wait to read more of it!