Wait for Me by An Na 2006
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