Thursday, May 13, 2010

Throwback Thursday: Wait for Me

Wait for Me by An Na 2006

Rating: 2.5/5

IQ "Even the most insipid song had something. A beat, a melody, that lone bass holding everything together. But when a song was right, when everything fell together, each note, each rise and dip of the voice filled me with a sense of yearning. A vastness. The sensation of flight seeping into my skin until I was skimming through the air, the music holding me aloft." Mina pg. 6

Mina is a lot like the lone bass described in the IQ, she seems to be holding her family together. She's president of the Honor Society, headed to Harvard with straight A and she works at her family's dry cleaners. She also watches out for younger sister, Suna who is hearing-impaired. However, Mina is not nearly as perfect as she appears, her life has been carefully constructed out of lies. This story is told in the alternating points of view between Mina and Suna.

I just couldn't get into this book. The prose was beautiful, but I just didn't care for this story. Maybe I'm tired of the demanding immigrant mother who just doesn't understand. I don't know what it was but I never connected with Mina or Suna. It didn't seem necessary to have Suna's point of view in the novel anyway, her point of view was usually about two pages and her view of the world was rather fuzzy. She's supposed to be going into middle school, but she acted really immature at times. I didn't have too much sympathy for Mina either. I did wish her mom wasn't so strict (and racist towards Latinos), but all the trouble Mina got in and was a result of the hole she dug for herself. She couldn't blame it all on her mom. Honestly, sometimes I think she just lacked common sense. And towards the end she does something awful towards Ysrael and I was appalled. SPOILER/Hightlight to Read: When she doesn't stand up for Ysrael after he is accused of stealing from the family. Even though it's her that's been stealing, my mouth dropped. And then after she fails to apologize he still takes her BACK! I would have dumped her so fast...

I picked up this book after reading a review at the Writers of Color 50 Book challenge because it mentioned an interracial romance. Mina falls in love with Ysrael, a Mexican immigrant. There are not many YA stories that deal with interracial romance between two POC. Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with books about two POC being in love with each other, or a POC and a white person being love, or two white people in love (as long as there is some diversity in the romance about the two white main characters). However, I want to see more YA books that show that not only do black and white people date each other, but so do Indians and African Americans, Koreans and Mexicans (in the case of Wait For Me), Latinos and Native Americans, etc. Ysrael was the only character I really felt something for. He was incredibly sweet, talented (he dreams of being a singer/musician) and patient. I liked how this novel was all about scars; both physical and emotional ones. Ysrael has a scar on his face that causes him much pain, especially when he was a child and it was much worse (some American doctors fixed it for him, but needless to say he's bitter about their treatment of him and his family). The emotional scars have more to do with a mom who puts so much pressure on her children and manipulation. A few of the characters in the novel are just using each other, including Mina's mother.

Wait for Me was a disappointment for me, but it tells a good story with some rare elements in YA; interracial dating between POC, and the handling of a disability. The characters were mostly underdeveloped, perhaps the novel was too short for the reader to really connect to the characters. I felt detached to all that was occurring throughout the book except for the romance between Ysrael and Mina. Their romance developed slowly and it felt authentic. The ending was surprise because it seemed far too abrupt. I was sure the epilogue would clarify things but it doesn't.

Disclosure: From the library


  1. I 100% agree with you about wanting to see more inter-POC romance. It bothers me that romance tends to be so racially homogenous (whether it's white-white, black-black, Asian-Asian, whatever). I understand that there are a lot of cultural differences to be overcome and that interracial relationships aren't as common, etc., but I feel like this is kind of misrepresentation on the part of writers! I can't name a single YA book I've read that involves that kind of romance. A few adult books, but ZERO YA.

    This book doesn't sound like one I'll pick up, but I like the sound of the themes! :D

  2. I'm reading one now that would fit the bill--Sofia Quintero's EFRAIN'S SECRET. Efrain Rodriguez, the main character, is half-Puerto Rican, half-Dominican, and the girl he dates, Candace Lamb, is African-American.

  3. You are so right about the plethora of demanding immigrant mothers (or fathers) who just don't understand. It does get kind of old. Surely authors can think of some new conflicts for new immigrants, or even other conflicts with parents besides the assimilation issue! Good review!

  4. @Maggie-I'd say give it a try if you see at the library one day or something. Yes more inter-POC YA! True white and black couples often have the hardest times facing public opinion, but interracial relationships between POC can be just as difficult and complicated. These relationships are becoming more common too.

    @Lyn-I hope to compile a list one day :) I'm looking forward to reading Efrain's Secret.

    @rhapsody-Right, I know those stories are needed and obviously realistic, but maybe we can move past that. Personally, my immigrant parent is not as demanding as I've seen portrayed in books. I think as we get further into the 21st century, new ocnflicts arise and can be written about.

  5. I'm with you about Na's writing being beautiful but not engaging. I didn't even finish this book (didn't finish A Step from Heaven either, for that matter). And being sick of the pushy immigrant mother.

    Two things re: the depiction (or lack thereof) of interracial romances in fiction. One, I'm constantly surprised by how few feature an Asian-American, since I believe Asian-Americans are the most likely group among American minorities to marry outside their race. Two, Maggie, I think I get what you're saying about Asian-Asian romances in books, but simply saying Asian-Asian is too simplistic, because of the huge range of ethnicities and national histories. Lensey Namioka's Mismatch features a romance between a Japanese-American teen and a Chinese-American teen, and, boy, is there a lot of room for conflict there, even if both are, technically, Asian-American. It's a conflict you wouldn't find in a Chinese-white or Japanese-white relationship, at any rate. Japanese and Korean might be even more fraught. I'm from Hawaii, and I still had a Korean-American classmate who said that her mother (hypothetically) did not want her to date a guy of Japanese descent, as well as a guy whose father is Japanese-American and his mother Korean-American, but the first time the father met the mother's family, he pretended he wasn't Japanese.

    As for YA books with an interracial romance not involving a white character, I feel like I've read a few but can't think of the titles. If mixed-race parents are okay, there's How to Salsa in a Sari by Dona Sarkar (which, okay, I didn't finish), about two girls, one Latina and one Indian-American, who don't get along in school but are forced to live together when their father and mother, respectively, get married. Oh, I know! What about Sherri L. Smith's Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet? It's for younger teens and is NOT a romance, but Ana Shen has a Chinese-American father’s, African-American mother, and a crush on a Japanese-American classmate.

  6. Yikes, I didn't realize my comment was so long! Sorry about that.

  7. @Trisha-I love comments, regardless of length :) I'm glad to hear that based on your comments and others that I'm not the only one tired pushy/demanding immigrant mothers. I'm going to give Step From Heaven a go, since I found The Fold to be better.

    I never had the facts to back me up but I always suspected that Asian Americans would be the most likely to marry into other cultures. Exactly, there are serious conflicts between cultures, Latinos and African Americans don't always get along (I have a Mexican friend who told me outright that I could never come to her house because her grandmother does not like Black people).

    Mismatch and Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet (I love how multi-racial it is! so represnetative of the 21st century) are both on my list to read. I'm currently reading How to Salsa in a Sari which I've read before, I'm pretty indifferent about it.

    I'm definitely going to work hard to find inter cultural romances.

  8. I enjoyed this book. I love Na's style. While the mother character is stereotypical, the story wasn't about her but Mina's perception and demands on herself. While her mother's pushiness is predictable in the book, I found the romance appealing and satisfying. I liked the ending, too. I like a good fantasy but I didn't want the ending to be a fairytale.

    And the way she treated Ysrael when she was confronted was the right dose of realism for me.

  9. @susan-I liked her style, how she showed a lot more than she told, but it could also be frustrated. I wanted to know more! The romance was satisfying and realistic, and I guess even the way she treated Ysrael was realistic too (as much as I wish it wasn't).


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