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Water in May


Water in May

Ismée Amiel Williams does not take a single page for granted. WATER IN MAY is a prime example of the power of young adult literature. It follows Mari Pujols, a pregnant 15-year-old, whose life happiness is tethered to her unborn baby. All her life she has been denied the familial love that a lot of people take for granted, and this baby becomes the answer to her prayers. It is the one person who has to love her.

That is, until she is told that her baby has a broken heart --- literally. As quickly as her happiness came, it is taken away, and now she must face the difficulties that a lot of mothers don’t go through. With an unstable family and her on-again-off-again boyfriend, the only secure support comes from her group of friends --- but hard situations seem to drive people away, and soon, even their relationships seem rocky.  With Dominican slang and festive music, Williams’ book gives readers the diverse, heartfelt story they didn’t know they were waiting for.

"Ismée Amiel Williams does not take a single page for granted. WATER IN MAY is a prime example of the power of young adult literature."

Diversity in books has certainly risen in popularity over the past few years, but I have yet to find a book that made me squeal in happiness because of how closely the similarities in our cultures were. Books provide an insight into different lifestyles, and Williams wants her readers to have the full experience of the different culture while demonstrating the similar situations all people go through. Teen pregnancy is a real and hard thing to go through. It has been portrayed in the media, and people see it happen to close friends and family, but it’s something people are never going to understand unless they go through it themselves. Williams takes the issue to another level: add almost no support and a sick baby and you are almost guaranteed for failure. Williams takes us through the ride with Mari. From the first appointment to the first heartbreak, to the insecurities of home and school life, we sit by her. Your hearts will ache and you are guaranteed to cry.

Williams highlights the importance of support and the unexpected kindness of humans --- something that we all sometimes need a reminder of. The people who touch and shape Mari’s journey are sometimes people she wouldn’t have expected. Teenagers go through so much change and influence in their life that their surroundings sometimes escape them. They don’t understand the importance their character has on other people. Williams touches on this with Mari, a character who feels alone and unwanted for a good part of the novel. There were times when I just wanted to go in the book and give her a hug.

This is as much a coming-of-age story as a love story about the reminiscence between forgotten love and new love. There wasn’t a chapter that didn’t put tears in my eyes or make me ache for a family I didn’t know. I had never hoped for a happy ending as much as I did with this novel. WATER FOR MAY is not just a story about teen pregnancy with a vague touch of diversity, it’s full-on Dominican slang and merengue references with a touch of bachata. Do you really need any more than that?

Reviewed by Sabina Z., Teen Board Member on October 16, 2017

Water in May
by Ismee Williams