I’m back with another book review! I admit that in between a full time physician schedule and parenting 3 little children, I just cannot seem to get through a book as quickly as before. There was a time when I could get through a book like “Water in May” in an afternoon and that’s how captivating I found it to be! I had a range of emotions going through this fabulous first novel by Ismee Williams – anxious anticipation, sadness, pride, elation, empathy – you name it. I have read very many books, and I have been touched by many characters, but it is less frequently that I have found myself subconsciously claiming a character as my very own, like a younger sister or relative, cheering for them, and even silently weeping with them.
Let me tell you a little about Mari here. She is a sassy, strong-willed and independent 15 year old. She has her gang of girls and the boyfriend also. She lives with her abuela (I learned a few Spanish words reading this novel) and even at her tender age, she has realized that some people are just not blessed with the perfectly loving family. Her mama took off when she was only eight, and her papi is in jail. Her abuela is stuck with her but really doesn’t care, or so she thinks, and so decides that she ought to find someone who can be her very own, and love her unconditionally. Surprise – her pregnancy is not at all by accident! This is really planned and she rejoices at the positive pregnancy test and celebrates with her friends. She figures that finally, she’ll have a child who will love her forever and everything will be perfect. Right?
When is life ever perfect or straightforward? Then again, how could Mari, at just 15 have realized this? She is forced to make incredibly difficult decisions, her friendships are tested, and she realizes that nothing is ever quite as simple as it might seem. She finds support in the least expected places, even as she faces disappointment and uncertainty again and again.
Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome!
What is that? Those of us who are parents can recall the excitement and anticipation, months of preparation, the dreams we have for and about our children even before they are ever born. If it is at all possible (because this doesn’t apply to most women), imaging being pregnant at 15 and being told your child has half a heart, that his/her life is in danger, that he/she will need several surgeries to even have a chance of survival, and that you will have such a long and difficult road ahead that it is best to consider whether termination of the pregnancy might be the better way to go. Even in face of turmoil at home and being expelled from school, even without support from the boyfriend, Mari is unwavering in her decision.
Water in May is as much a showcase of medical technology and surgical excellence, as it is a celebration of the best of human kindness, resilience, selflessness, and family.
Speaking of human resilience and kindness, I was very touched by the story of forty-something year old Helen, who finds ways to love and care for young Mari even during her own personal struggle. A warm blanket, pizza and refreshments, and after the unthinkable happens, books handed over to help Mari on her journey as a mom to a special needs child, are just a few examples. A strong bond is formed with her young doctor, Dr. Love, who is a partner and advisor for Mari on her difficult journey. Mari learns later that when Dr. Love doesn’t attend her delivery, this is because his own wife was having a baby at the same time. He too, has his own challenges to face, as we all do in life. Mari is much wiser for all she has gone through – a true “emancipated minor.”
Water in May is a heart-warming masterpiece. I truly do not feel that my review does it enough justice. Read the book and like me, you’ll find yourself encouraging and cheering for Mari and little Angelo the whole way, praying for things to work out, for a better tomorrow. Even now, I find myself wondering about little Angelo, wishing there might be sequel. It was a great honor for me to read and review this book.
Read it for yourself and I promise you won’t be disappointed. Click here to buy a copy. This is a great addition to any family library!
About the Author: Ismee is a Pediatric Cardiologist and a daughter of a Cuban immigrant. She reports that she was partially raised by her abuelos and “Water In May” is her first novel.