*STARRED REVIEW*Gr. 8-11. The author of the Printz Award Book A Step from Heaven (2001) tells another contemporary Korean American story of leaving home. This time, though, love is as powerful as the intense family drama. The focus is on high-school senior Mina, trapped in the web of lies invented to satisfy her overbearing mom, Uhmma, who expects Mina to attend Harvard and escape the drudgery of their small-town dry cleaning store. Mina’s brilliant friend Jonathan Kim helps her cheat and steal. She uses him, but he thinks he loves her—and he eventually rapes her. Then Mexican immigrant Ysrael, a gifted musician on his way to San Francisco, comes to work in the store, and he and Mina fall passionately in love. Will she go with him and make a new life free of lies? Ysrael is too perfect, just as Uhmma is demonized, but both are shown from Mina’s viewpoint, and it is her struggle with her secrets that is spellbinding. Alternating with Mina’s first-person narrative are short vignettes from the perspective of Mina’s deaf younger sister, who Mina protects. The conflicts of love, loyalty, and betrayal drive the plot—and they eventually show Mina her way."
What defines success? For one immigrant Korean mother, it is nothing less than a Harvard education. Seventeen-year-old Mina has created a high-school life filled with the illusion of straight A's and a topnotch college preparatory program in order to meet the overwhelming demands and expectations of her controlling Uhmma. Aided by former boyfriend and fellow Korean Jonathan, Mina adds some cheating to her life of lying. Her younger, hearing-impaired sister Suna, viewed as "damaged" by Uhmma, and the forbidden love and realistic advice of new, Mexican boyfriend Ysrael, ultimately force a sense of accountability in Mina. In an open-ended and arresting conclusion, she begins to face the truth within herself. Once again Na has created a compelling drama riveted with emotional anguish. She draws her characters completely from within their souls, expressing the dreaded fear and doubt of protagonist Mina, which is brought on by the harshness and overbearing parental presumptions of Uhmma, and complicated by the loving responsibility for neglected and virtually abandoned sister, Suna. For Mina, success will depend on how she confronts her own desires, voices them to her rigid, insufferable mother and begins to live an honest life for herself. Gripping and engrossing. (Fiction. YA)
Instead of attending Harvard and dating the Korean-American boyfriend her mother has chosen for her, high school senior Mina Kang wants to plan her own future. To this end, she's been stealing cash from her parents' dry-cleaning store, and she rebels further by sneaking off to the beach with her sister and the desirable Ysrael, a young man her parents have hired to work in their store.When Ysrael is fired for the theft that is actually Mina's, he asks Mina to leave L.A. with him. Suna, Mina's younger sister, has been a willing co-conspirator to Mina's romance, but for fear of losing her beloved sister, she reveals Mina's plans, setting the stage for a confrontation involving mother and daughter, and a near-fatal accident. This is a well-crafted tale, sensitively told: Na fashions the story and fleshes out her characters by juxtaposing Korean and American cultural traditions, parental dreams, and young adult desires, even birth order differences between siblings.This opposition is emphasized by the format: alternating chapters in which Mina speaks for herself while Suna's story is told in a third-person, present-tense narrative capturing her feelings of being once removed from the world and her mother's love. There are some familiar cultural patterns here, but the mother-daughter conflict will resonate with teens of any culture who have wrestled parents for the right to choose their own paths. At times the ending seems inevitable, but Na doesn't settle for easy resolution, and the conclusion respects her charactersand their growth. CW
WAIT FOR ME: A Novel, by An Na (Putnam Juvenile, $15.99, 0399242759) "With right-on-the-money realism, An Na tells the story of a first-generation Korean-American teen under too much pressure to be 'the best.' Mina makes some devastatingly wrong decisions but learns by them and ends up well. Beautifully told! --Virginia Duffey, Page One Bookstore, Albuquerque, NM
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
An Na's new book will not disappoint those fans who loved her Printz Medal winning A STEP FROM HEAVEN. Once again An Na tells the story of a young woman who is torn between what is expected of her and what and who she truly is. Mina lives with her sister Suna and their parents. Minda is expected to work in her parent's dry cleaners, study hard, get good grades, and go on to Harvard. Mina has been hiding several secrets from her family, however, including the fact that her grades are not as good as they appear on her doctored report card. When Ysrael comes to work at the store, Mina is drawn to him. Ysrael and Mina form a close relationship, one that damages Mina's own relationship with her sister, Suna. An Na's quiet prose draws a reader closer in to better hear the tale she is to tell. This accomplished author's latest offering is certain to gathe praises.