Wait for Me by An Na (Putnam, 2006). For Mina, it's Harvard or nothing--at least that's what Uhmma, her mother, demands. Plus, Mina has to work at her family's dry cleaning business and protect her younger sister, Suna, from Uhmma's disdain. But Mina's life is a lie. When Ysrael offers his heart and asks what she wants, what will happen next? Ages 12-up.
An Na also is the author of the Printz Award winner of A Step from Heaven (Front Street, 2001); her latest novel, Wait for Me, was well worth the wait.
Mina is stuck, caught between her mother's expectations and reality, between Jonathan the manipulator and Ysrael the musician, between her younger sister Suna and the boy Mina loves, Ysrael, who represents her freedom and future.
It's both a family story and a love story that asks: Who are you for yourself, not someone else? What do you want? At first glance, the questions might seem easy to answer. But what if your desires, your goals, conflicted with your duty, the expectations you'd been raised with your entire life? What if they were contrary to the needs of someone you loved?
As Mina realizes, "There's never a clear cut, running from one life for another. There was always devastation."
The novel is told in alternating point of view, from Mina in first person and her younger sister Suna, who is hearing-impaired, in third. It's Mina's story, but Suna grounds it, and in many ways, her insights clarify the emotional stakes.
Wait for Me is a gentle, thoughtful, deeply-felt book. I found myself pausing periodically to let it sink in, to appreciate it. An Na's latest novel will speak to the hearts of teens (and adults) who feel trapped in one place and are longing for another.
On Writing: Wait for Me from An Na from her author website.
See a December 2001 interview with An Na as well as additional interviews with authors, YA links, and recommended novels for young adults (note bibliography continues from navigation bar).