Fifteen-year-old Mari Pujols believes that the baby she’s carrying will finally mean she’ll have a family member who will love her deeply and won’t ever leave her—not like her mama, who took off when she was eight; or her papi, who’s in jail; or her abuela, who wants as little to do with her as possible. But when doctors discover a potentially fatal heart defect in the fetus, Mari faces choices she never could have imagined.
Surrounded by her loyal girl crew, her off-and-on boyfriend, and a dedicated doctor, Mari navigates a decision that could emotionally cripple the bravest of women. But both Mari and the broken-hearted baby inside her are fighters; and it doesn’t take long to discover that this sick baby has the strength to heal an entire family.
Inspired by true events, this gorgeous debut has been called “heartfelt, heartbreaking and—yes!—even a little heart-healing, too” by bestselling YA novelist Carolyn Mackler.
Description taken from Goodreads. I received an advance copy of this book, to be published September 12th, 2017, via the publisher in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own.
Back when I first heard about Water in May, it was under a different name and I had no idea it was a diverse read.
— Eli Madison (@thesilverwords) May 25, 2016
The tweet pinned to my twitter talks about how I’m anticipating the day when we won’t have these grand diversity movements, as great as they are. Instead, YA literature itself will be diverse and reflect life as it truly is. With Water in May, Williams challenged stereotypes I didn’t even know I had and restored hope in a dream that I’d previously thought was far away.
This story surprised me in every way possible. The main character, Mari, is fifteen and pregnant. She’s fierce but loving to her family and friends. She’s got quick fists and a big heart. Despite Mari being rough and tough around the edges, Williams painted a picture of her in my mind as a girl who’s just trying to make it in a world that’s much bigger than any of us. Somehow, Mari endeared herself to me, and I came to care about her story, her friends, her community, and her desperate desire to take care of the baby who will love her like no one else. The writing completely transported me to the world of Mari and baby Angelo, and I didn’t want the story to end when I reached the last page.
I was also impressed by the depth to the side characters. With Angelo’s pregnancy and birth, Mari begins to see more in her boyfriend, her grandmother, and the people around her. I loved watching her grow and see her forgive and come through difficulties with the people close to her. Mari really learns how to be happy and thankful and begin building her life as an adult, giving the novel a bit of a coming-of-age feel to it.
My only criticism is of the personal sort. This novel won’t hit everyone the same way. For me, it didn’t hit just right. It’s not for lack of a point or emotional appeal or character growth or good writing–it has all those things–but I thought it could stand up to more plot. The beginning and ending are excellent, but the in-between of doctor visits and moving from place to place wasn’t quite enough. But overall? A solid debut. I would really like to see more of Williams’ work in this setting, and I’m looking forward to her novels to come. 3 stars.