Summary: Wave by Diana Farid
Thirteen-year-old Ava lives in 80s California and loves to catch a wave with her best friend, Phoenix, whom she’s beginning to crush on. Her mom is a single mother and her dad lives in Iran with his new family and rarely contacts them.
Ava likes to write poetry and sing (she’s getting to sing in the school choir soon) but her mom who’s a doctor wants Ava to consider that career path. She persuades her to volunteer at the hospital but Ava would rather be surfing or engaging in her other hobbies. She gets even more upset when she breaks her leg while volunteering. Amidst all the drama, Phoenix’s lymphoma returns aggressively and he doesn’t want to pursue treatment anymore. Can Ava convince him to keep trying?
This was a solid verse novel. Unfortunately, I listened to the audiobook, so I missed out on the illustrations in the text copies, but the narration was beautiful. Ava is Persian-American living in the 80s when there’s a fair amount of anti-Iranian sentiment. Phoenix has to come to her defense when a kid bullies her for her Iranian heritage. Her mom isn’t as integrated into the Persian-American community because she’s divorced and a working single mother, so Ava has mixed feelings about being Persian and expressing that.
Ava also struggles with mild OCD which we see mostly when she’s stressed and worried about Phoenix’s health. She and Phoenix have a sweet relationship and the story alternates between past and present showing us the history of their friendship and how they weathered his first cancer diagnosis. Phoenix also plays music so that’s something they both have in common.
I don’t like sad books, so that colored my enjoyment of this story because the ending isn’t happy (spoiler!), but it is somewhat hopeful and reflective of what real life can be like. I enjoyed the way the author tackled all the many themes in this one and I think young readers will too.
Overall: Wave by Diana Farid
Wave by Diana Farid is a lyrical, captivating, and heartwrenching middle grade verse novel about first crushes, surfing, and the grief of losing a friend. This is also a great way to introduce kids to older technologies from the 80s and learn about volunteering at a hospital. Ava is a flawed, relatable protagonist and I adored her friendship with Phoenix and Naz and her overall character growth throughout the story. Just have the tissues nearby!