Waiting by Ha Jin

I have a feeling Waiting by Ha Jin (2000) is going to be one of those novels that stays with me, even though I have no plans to read the story again.

Set in China, the story is about Lin, a doctor who marries the bride of his parents' choice, Shuyu, only to fall in love with a nurse, Manna. Since his only option for divorce without Shuyu's consent is to be separated for eighteen years, he lives his life as an army physician in a platonic relationship with Manna while visiting his wife and daughter in the village once a year to ask Shuyu for a divorce.

During the final section of the book, Lin and Manna are finally together. The passage of time and what happens to you along the way have a way of changing any relationship, though, and having waited so very long to be together can only add extra pressure and expectations.

Jin does an excellent job of providing a character study of Manna and, especially, Lin and their changes over time. I found the book very depressing, though well-written and thought-provoking.

My overall personal rating of Waiting is a B+.


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