Monday, August 4, 2008

Wait for Me by An Na

I hate that I waited so long to review this book, as I'm not sure how well I'll remember it now. But still, I'm going to attempt it, using the questions I was asked as part of Weekly Geeks.

But first, since no one asked me this, here is a quick summary. Mina is a Korean-American girl, who, on the outside, appears to be the perfect daughter. She helps take care of her younger sister, who is hearing impaired (but not deaf), and she is a straight A student, with plans to go to Harvard. But Mina is hiding a secret - she has been altering her report cards to reflect higher grades than she actually is receiving, with the help of Jonathan, another Korean-American boy with whom she has grown up, and who her mother thinks is absolutely perfect. While helping at her parents' dry cleaning business, Mina meets Ysrael, an immigrant worker, and establishes a relationship that makes her uncomfortable about the life she is living.

1. Have you read any others by An Na? How would you say Wait for Me compares to her other books?

I haven't read any other of An Na's books, so I don't have a basis for comparison. I do know that her previous book, A Step from Heaven, was a Printz Award winner. As Wait for Me deals with a difficult topic, and one that is likely not far from the truth of many girls' situations (based on stories I hear from my husband, who is a high school teacher that teaches a large population of Asian students), I wouldn't be surprised to see this one win awards, either.

2. What country is An Na from? What are her books like?

An Na was born in Korea, but grew up in Southern California. As I mentioned before, this is the only Na book I have read, so I don't know if her first book has the same feel. Wait for Me was a very unhappy book. Mina is miserable at home, knows she is deceiving her mother (who greatly favors her over her sister), and knows that there is no way she will ever be able to get into Harvard with her grades. Once she meets Ysrael, she has to hide her friendship from her mother, who doesn't approve of Ysrael, because of his ethnicity. There was very little about this book that was upbeat.

3. In "Wait For Me" did An Na combine humour along with serious issues? The main character is Korean-American but I would like to know if her family pressured her to follow Korean tradition or was she free to embrace American tradition?

I don't remember any humor in Wait for Me at all. It was a very serious book, through-and-through. The second part of this question is difficult. Mina's family is very traditional and stereotypical. Her family owns a dry cleaning business, and they don't trust anyone outside of the family to staff the business, until Mina's father hurts his back and her mother grudgingly hires a Mexican immigrant, of whom she is terribly racist towards. Her mother expects her to be a perfect student and to go to a prestigious school (Harvard being the cream of the crop in her experience). I think this is her mother's vision of American tradition, but Mina is forced to abandon any activities that aren't beneficial to her college application. All her free time is spent studying, and the only activity she participates in is chorus. Mina has to sneak around to spend time with Ysrael. She certainly isn't allowed the freedome of a "typical" American teenager.

4. How was Point-of-View handled? Was there a single POV character or did it alternate among two or more. Was it always clear whose eyes and mind were filtering?

The book alternated between two characters. The parts where Mina was the focus were in first person. The other chapters focused on her sister, Suna. These chapters were written in third person. It was very clear when the POV changed.

5. How was language used to set tone and mood?

Mina's sections were generally angrier. Words like "snapped," "tirade," "shoving," were common.

6. Was the prose dense or spare? Were sentences generally simple or complex?

The sentences in Mina's section were longer, more complex. They sounded more mature than Suna's sections, which reflects the age difference between the two (about 5 years difference). The sentences in Suna's sections tended to be short and choppy.

This book fills the "N" author position in the A-Z challenge.

1 comment:

alisonwonderland said...

i just finished (and posted a short review of) Wait for Me for my "N" author. i liked your review. i'm definitely going to be looking for more of Na's work.