Thursday 4 July 2024

I’ll Be Waiting for You

I’ll Be Waiting for You by Mariko Turk (Allen & Unwin) ISBN: 9781760526603 RRP $19.99

Reviewed by Melissa Wray

Natalie and Imogen are the best of friends who every year spend the summer break together at the famously haunted Harlow Hotel. That is until one day Imogen tragically dies from an undiagnosed heart condition. Natalie’s grief is unbearable as she tries to navigate a world without her best friend.

The book fast forwards twelve months to the first summer without Imogen. It sees Natalie return to the hotel, along with her school rival, Leander, both working on their senior project. The two have their own reasons for investigating the supernatural the hotel has become famous for. Leander is determined to show the resident medium for the fraud he believes she is; however, he has his only family issues to deal with.

Turk moves the storyline along at a good pace over a short time span, and we get to know both Natalie and Leander quite well. However, Turk shows what an accomplished writer she is by also developing Imogen’s character as the story unfolds, even though Imogen dies at the beginning of the story. It is this character development and the use of flashback stories that contribute to the present storyline that helps Natalie to evolve and begin to deal with her grief.

Whilst both Natalie and Leander are initially solid in their disbelief of the supernatural, Natalie soon starts to waver. Turk’s subtle insertions of signs from the spiritual world are essential to the story as Natalie tries to move forward without her best friend, grieve her loss, and overcome some of the guilt she feels.  

Turk’s writing is entertaining but also tender as she taps into the grief process of a teenager through Natalie and what that could look like. The rivalry between Leander and Natalie slowly becomes a possible love interest which is also important as it allows Natalie to experience some joy and happiness for the first time since she lost her best friend.

This book is a lovely, heartfelt, and uplifting story. I’ll Be Waiting for You is suitable for a 12+ years readership.


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