Waiting for Danica relates the true story of its titular character, Danica, as seen through the eyes of her sister. Set in the streets of Melbourne, Ana Dean takes us into an aspect of the city usually unseen, ignored, by the rest of society, all the while recounting her own experiences and fears, and her helplessness, as she skirts around the world - a world of street laws, cultural clashes, alcohol and substance abuse, mental illness, of prejudices and the injustices of a flawed system - that her sister has dived headfirst into.
What makes this book powerful is not so much literary genius or slick storytelling, but Ana's brutal honesty. She does not try to force the reader to like Danica nor any of the other people in her life, and she makes no excuses for the circumstances that Danica finds herself in, she simply relates the events that unfolded, that she lived through, allowing the reader to step right into her shoes, to feel the pain of her betrayals and disappointments, all her flickers of hope, all of her struggle to hold herself together to be there for another.
This story is by no means perfectly written. At times it was hard to follow Ana's narrative, her focus on significant events in Danica's life rather than her own often left gaps that led to a disconnect from her narrator's perspective. The parts which were described through Danica's own perspective were hard to believe (although it could be argued this added an extra facet to the reality Ana faced throughout the story). I also found it difficult to follow all the different people involved in Danica's life, as many have only fleeting roles, and the descriptions of people and places included to help the reader understand the setting felt particularly clunky.
However, in saying all these things, this is a story about a very imperfect person in a very imperfect world, and Waiting for Danica was nevertheless an emotional and eye-opening read, one that I will not forget any time soon.