By: Diana Farid
Illustrated by: Kris Goto
Published: March 29, 2022
Publisher: Cameron Kids
Middle-Grade Fiction/Novel in Verse
It has been a while since I read a novel in verse and I was reminded again how much I love it. This coming-of-age story about a Persian/American girl growing up over one tough summer was just so wonderful. I read it in just a couple of sittings because I needed to keep reading. The poetry was so full of meaning using very few words. The characters melted my heart and as a mom, I really awakened to the struggles of raising our children with our dreams versus their dreams.
The story begins in March 1987 with Ava getting ready to go back to school after Spring Break. Ava is an only child of a single mom, who is also a doctor. Ava has issues with OCD and also has a crush on her best friend and fellow surfer, Phoenix. Ava can’t wait to spend her summer crashing waves with Phoenix, but her mom has other plans for her. Instead, Ava has to spend her days volunteering at the hospital. But, there is more ahead for Ava’s summer that she never saw coming.
Fans of the Persian poet, Rumi, will find a lot to love in this novel in verse. Many of Rumi’s poets are used to begin a page. Ava turns 14 in 1987 and I turned 15 in 1987 so I could relate to a lot of her music references and especially the joy of making a mixtape. There is a lot of 80s nostalgia in the story that I loved.
Ava has a rough summer and has to grow up quickly. She also faces some hurtful racism at the hands of boys at the beach. This novel covers a lot of teen issues with grace and emotion shared in the prose. I think a lot of kids will relate to the feelings expressed in this story even though teens in 2022 have social media and cell phones. The fear of being not being accepted, losing a friend, or going after a dream will still resonate today with teen readers today.
Diana Farid is the author of When You Breathe, named a 2021 Notable Poetry Book by the National Council of Teachers of English; it was also awarded the California Reading Association’s 2021 EUREKA! Gold Award for nonfiction children’s book. She is a poet and a physician at Stanford University. Wave is her first middle-grade novel. For more information, visit dianafarid.com.