Sunday, March 20, 2022

Wave by Diana Farid

Wave by Diana Farid,
illustrated by Kris Goto
Cameron Kids, 2022, 320 Pages
Available March 29, 2022
Wave is a novel-in-verse narrated in the first person by Ava, a thirteen-year-old Persian American living in southern California who is mildly OCD. Set in the 1980s, Ava is looking forward to graduating from eight grade and a summer of hanging out at the beach surfing with Phoenix and best friend Naz before school begins again. Ava's parents are divorced, her dad lives in Paris with his new family, and her Iranian born mom is an OB/GYN doctor at the local hospital. Her mom is hoping Ava will follow her into medicine, and signs her up to be a volunteer on Saturdays for the summer, something she isn't too happy about. 

At the hospital, Ava meets patient, Mr. Cameron, in room 509 and discovers that they share a love of poetry by the Persian poet Rumi

At school, Ava, who loves music, sings in the choir and her teacher announces that they have been invited to sing at the Fourth of July Freedom Festival, with Ava having a solo part. It means rehearsals even after school ends.  

At the beach, Ava is confronted by a racist volleyball player more than once who instantly dislikes her for her dark olive skin. This is a difficult experience for her since the beach is the one place Ava has always felt she like she fit in since her skin tone could pass for tan. And it's at the beach that she begins to notice small changes in Phoenix. He had been diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma as a child, but has been in remission. Now his cancer has returned and his prognosis isn't very good. 

Then, Ava slips and falls at the hospital, breaking her leg. Since her summer of surfing is now curtailed, her mother signs her up for a medicine for teens class every Monday and Wednesday, a class that begins June 29th, which Ava resents since she has made it clear to her mother that she has no interest in medicine and needs to prepare for her solo at the Freedom Festival. 

There's a lot happening in this novel and yet none of it feels unrealistic or overwhelming. Instead, it is a poignant coming-of-age story about identity, friendship, love, loss and grief. But it is also about how music and poetry can help us process life's more difficult challenges, as summed up in the song that Ava wrote about her life.

Farid has included lots of different aspects of Iranian culture throughout the novel and it is interesting that she set her novel in a time when anti-Iranian feelings were running high in this country. The poetry gives the reader not just a sense of waves building as they come in and crash at the shoreline, then draw back out to sea again, but they are so symbolic of the highs and lows of Ava's life that fateful year (the timeline goes from March to November).

Sprinkled throughout the novel are lovely spot illustrations relating to Ava's life. I chuckled when I saw the one with Ava's new walkman. I know exactly how she felt when she received it, I still have mine and yes, it still works. And to go with that walkman, Farid has included a playlist of Phoenix's songs for Ava, and Ava's songs for Phoenix - all very 80s.

Wave is a poignant novel and though some may see it as historical fiction, it will no doubt resonate for today's readers. 

Thank you to Barbara Fisch at Blue Slip Media for providing me with an ARC of Wave.

Meet the Author:

Diana Farid is the author of When You Breathe, named a 2021 Notable Poetry Book by the National Council of Teachers of English; it was also awarded the California Reading Association’s 2021 EUREKA! Gold Award for nonfiction children’s book. She is a poet and a physician at Stanford University. Wave is her first middle grade novel. For more information, visit

Twitter and Instagram: @_artelixir

Be sure to check out the other Marvelous Middle Grade Monday offerings, 
now being carried on by Greg at Always in the Middle


  1. Thanks, Alex for sharing diverse stories. It's easy for some of us to forget anti-Iranian sentiment in the 80's.

  2. Gorgeous cover and illustrations, and I loved that song!

  3. I thought of It Ain't So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas when I read this one. I thought the details of the 1980s were well done. THanks for sharing.

  4. What's a Walkman? (Just kidding) I've read this story and share some of your same sentiments. The characters were quite endearing and believable. Thanks for featuring on MMGM.

  5. Glad that you and Greg enjoyed ths story so much. I love books set in the 1980's.

  6. Sounds an interesting story with a lot going on! Thanks for sharing!

  7. What an engaging story. I love Rumi, so the poetry aspect would appeal to me -- very healing for Ava.
    I remember the anti-Iranian sentiment very clearly, because one of my friends married an Iranian and lived in Iran -- got out just before the Shah fled. We have a large community of former Iranian diplomats to the US living in Cincinnati. Am adding this book to my list because I haven't read very much about that time in novels. Thanks for sharing today!

  8. This sounds terrific. I love novels in verse. I will have to hunt down a copy of this one. Thanks for the post.


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