Aniana del Mar Jumps In by Jasminne Mendez

Published by Dial Books

Summary:  Aniana loves to swim, but her swim team is a secret between her and her Papi, since Mami has extreme anxiety about water, dating back to her brother’s drowning death in a hurricane during her childhood in the Dominican Republic.  When Aniana develops symptoms of what is later diagnosed as Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, she’s forced to tell the doctor about her swimming, and Mami is sure that God is punishing her for lying.  Slowly, Aniana comes to terms with her illness and begins to see herself as a new person–someone who has to deal with a chronic disease, but also someone who is no longer afraid to speak up for herself.  A crisis brings the need for some resolution, bringing Mami the help she needs and allowing Aniana to find her way back to swimming.  Includes an author’s note about her own life experiences, including a chronic illness, that inspired her to write this book.  384 pages; grades 4-8.

Pros:  I jumped into this beautiful novel in verse and found it hard to put down.  Aniana is an inspiring protagonist who is forced to learn to live with a pretty debilitating disease and manages to re-make herself into someone stronger.

Cons:  I got very frustrated by Mami.

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