Author: Diana Farid
Illustrator: Kris Goto
Published March 29th, 2022 by Cameron Kids
Summary: A coming-of-age novel in verse set in 1980s Southern California, about a Persian American girl who rides the waves, falls, and finds her way back to the shore.
Thirteen-year-old Ava loves to surf and to sing. Singing and reading Rumi poems settle her mild OCD, and catching waves with her best friend, Phoenix, lets her fit in—her olive skin looks tan, not foreign. But then Ava has to spend the summer before ninth grade volunteering at the hospital, to follow in her single mother’s footsteps to become a doctor. And when Phoenix’s past lymphoma surges back, not even surfing, singing, or poetry can keep them afloat, threatening Ava’s hold on the one place and the one person that make her feel like she belongs. With ocean-like rhythm and lyricism, Wave is about a girl who rides the waves, tumbles, and finds her way back to the shore.
“Processing her feelings through music empowers Ava and gives her a new understanding of home and the connections she shares with others. Raw and powerful, this free verse novel honestly explores issues of identity, culture, grief, and hope… Rich, layered, and heart-rending.”―Kirkus Reviews
“Farid’s poetry rides the page like a wave, charting the ups and downs of Ava’s emotions. . .The verse format makes this text extremely accessible, and readers will be delighted to find elements of Ava’s Persian heritage and 1980s childhood also woven throughout.” ―School Library Journal
“Farid brings her expertise as an MD to Ava’s story, simplifying the complexity of lymphoma while packing an emotional punch with the musical references that Ava uses to cope.” ―Booklist
About the Creators:
Diana Farid is the author of When You Breathe, published by Cameron Kids. She is a poet and a physician at Stanford University. She lives in the Bay Area.
Honolulu-based fine artist Kris Goto was born in Japan. She spent most of her adolescence in Hong Kong and New Zealand, where she became inspired by the outside world and a passion for manga.
Review: This book is actually hard for me to write about because it is just so beautiful in all the right ways. It is full of so many emotions, beautiful writing, important topics, characterization, and 80s references. The author’s inclusion of such a specific setting and pop culture references could have easily turned off a reader, but Farid seamlessly blends it into Ava’s story to where it is all part of one amazing package. A package that includes a lot but that is because a 14 year old Persian girl growing up in California would have dealt with a lot: identity, self-love vs. loathing, immigrant experience, expectations, friendship, hobbies, school, racism, family… and on top of that Ava has Phoenix’s and (my favorite character) Room 509’s health to think about, her own broken leg, surfing, music, and a single parent. Add to all of this plot poetry that is robust in its rhythm and variety in a way that makes reading the book an experience, a wonderful reading experience.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: In addition to all of the reading discussion that can happen with this book, it is also a wonderful poetry writing mentor text. Each poem has its own format, personality, mood, tone, etc. so students have so many choices about which they would want to be inspired by. Goto’s illustrations show how art can add to poems as well, so students could create their own drawings to accompany their poems. Also, with the inclusion of music, students could turn their poems into songs.
Students could also make their own mix tapes for different characters in the book using Ava’s and Phoenix’s as examples. Students could then explain why they chose the songs they did for the characters.
The inclusion of Rumi’s poetry could also lead to a poetry study of his poetry which could include historical instruction as well.
- Why did the author format __[poem]__ the way she did?
- How did music influence Ava’s time during this point in her life?
- How do you think Ava’s summer would have been different if she hadn’t broken her leg?
- How did Phoenix and Ava’s friendship change over time? What caused their friendship to evolve?
- Why does Ava blow up at Phoenix and Naz at the beach?
- How does Room 509 play a part in Ava’s summer? What do you think the purpose of this character is?
- How did Ava’s mother’s decision to leave Iran to go to medical school transform her life?
- Farid included instances of racism in the book. Why is it important that she includes these? What does it show us about our country?
- Do you believe Ava has OCD? What parts in the story show you this?
- How does Ava both embrace her Persian culture but also resent the pressure it holds?
- The author included Farsi throughout the book. Why is this translanguaging important to include when telling Ava’s story.
- Find an example of when Farid captured the rhythm of the ocean in her poetry.
Read This If You Love: Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar, Starfish by Lisa Fipps, Benbee and the Teacher Griefer by KA Holt, Open Mic edited by Mitali Perkins
**Thank you to Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review**