Sunday, January 28, 2024

Book Review: The Waiting Room, by Emily Bleeker

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Veronica flipped her hair back, the blow dryer sending the nearly dry strands across her face as though she were on a photo shoot. After her Friday fifteen-miler, she’d spent an extra ten minutes in the shower, buffing and shaving all the neglected areas that might show in the dress she’d laid out for the night. It was a simple maroon shirt dress made of T-shirt material that was comfortable but wouldn’t be too out of place in Marco’s, the nicest restaurant in town and the only bar on the west side of the city that wasn’t a dive.

When her mother came home with Sophie safely in her car seat after the alarm fiasco, Veronica had decided to at least bring up the idea of going out with the waiting-room lady, especially since Gillian had sworn that she’d never tell a soul about the strange figure in all of Veronica’s paintings. The rest of the week was spent secretly painting over the little girl in her illustrations. It was going to take some time to get them all taken care of, but even more daunting than the work was figuring out a way to ignore the insanity of not remembering painting the child to begin with. 

Veronica has finally taken her mother’s suggestion to start therapy after her husband and baby daughter went missing one night, and then her husband died. She hasn’t been able to even hold her baby since then, as a result of her anxiety and postpartum depression.

Official synopsis:

Book Review: The Waiting Room, by Emily Bleeker
Ever since her husband’s death collided with the birth of her daughter, postpartum depression has taken hold of Veronica Shelton. She can’t sleep, can’t work, and can’t bear to touch her beautiful baby girl. Her emotional state is whispering lies in Veronica’s ear: You’re a bad mother. Your baby would be better off without you. But not everything can be reasoned away by Veronica’s despair. Can it?

After all, the break-in at her house happened. The disturbing sketches she found in her studio are real. So is the fear for her daughter’s safety—especially when Veronica comes home to a cold, silent nursery and a missing baby.

As she turns from victim into primary suspect, Veronica realizes that only she can find her daughter. Authorities aren’t helping. They’re only watching. Veronica’s concerned mother has suddenly vanished from her life. And a new friend seems to be keeping secrets from her too. Now, reality is waiting for Veronica in a dark place—because someone’s mind games have only just begun.

Veronica’s life has gotten much smaller since losing her husband. Her mom has moved in, since Veronica can’t bring herself to touch or hold the baby, but she still does what she can to provide for her beautiful daughter’s needs. 

She thinks therapy is really helping. She takes her therapist’s suggestion to supplement with formula so breastfeeding doesn’t feel so stressful, and then she even meets a woman who really wants to be her friend in the waiting room. Going out with her friend and working up to touching her sleeping daughter means she’s getting healthier and more "normal," right?

This twisty thriller was a page-turner until the end. While it got a bit chaotic in the middle, the ending brought it to 4 out of 5 stars. The book would be enjoyed by those who like family dramas and unreliable narrators. As stated on the book cover and summary, there is a missing daughter, in case this may be triggering for some.

Becki Bayley is a wife and mom who enjoys '80s and '90s music and movies, especially dark comedies. Check out what else she’s up to on Instagram, where she posts as PoshBecki.

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