Friday, March 02, 2007

Wait for Me by An Na

This book is a romance and a story about two sisters living in a difficult family. A really difficult family. Mina, the older sister, has spent her life under pressure. Her mother expects her to be perfect—to get good grades, work in the family business, to get perfect SAT scores, and to go to Harvard. Mina has no other choice. Mina's mom is really awful—she belittles and insults Mina's older, ineffective father, and treats Sunna, Mina's younger sister badly because she is hearing impaired. When Mina finds a connection and romance with Ysrael, a Mexican singer/songwriter who is totally unacceptable to her mother, she finds herself wanting to run away from this family and start a life on her own terms. Things I liked about this book: the bond between Mina and Sunna, the portrayal of the competitive relationship between Korean American families and the pressure on their children to be perfect, and Mina's sweet romance with Ysrael. What I didn't like was that it never addressed the solutions to Mina's problems. An Na (a fine writer) gives us this awful mother and this really universal teenage desire to live a life of your own outside of a mother's expectations, and yet we never see the mother-daughter relationship resolved in any way. I was left wondering how in the world Mina was going to go on living with her parents. It was still a good book, but I was left a little unsatisfied in the end. (For a really moving story of Korean American family, read A Step from Heaven, also by An Na.)

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