Aniana del Mar Jumps In (Hardcover)
Aniana (Ani) loves to swim. She feels alive and most herself in the ocean or while competing on the swim team, all of which must be kept secret from her mother. When Ani’s joints swell to the point of making her sick and keeping her in bed, her family searches for answers. The diagnosis of juvenile arthritis completely upends Ani’s life. Who is she without the ocean, without her swim medals? Who is she if her mother never lets her swim again. Aniana del Mar Jumps In is an insightful exploration of chronic illness. Both Ani and her parents must grow in different ways to accept this sickness they cannot see or cure. This is a beautifully written novel-in-verse. The poems not only capture the ebbs and flows (and storms) of Ani’s emotions, but the feeling of being buoyed by the water or dragged down by a wave. If you are an audiobook listener, the author narrates her book and does an incredible job.
- Kaitee Tredway, River Bend Bookshop (Glastonbury, CT)— From NECBA Windows & Mirrors 2023 Short List
A powerful and expertly told novel-in-verse by about a 12-year-old Dominican American swimmer who is diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis by an award-winning poet.
Aniana del Mar belongs in the water like a dolphin belongs to the sea. But she and Papi keep her swim practices and meets hidden from Mami, who has never recovered from losing someone she loves to the water years ago. That is, until the day Ani’s stiffness and swollen joints mean she can no longer get out of bed, and Ani is forced to reveal just how important swimming is to her. Mami forbids her from returning to the water but Ani and her doctor believe that swimming along with medication will help Ani manage her disease. What follows is the journey of a girl who must grieve who she once was in order to rise like the tide and become the young woman she is meant to be. Aniana Del Mar Jumps In is a poignant story about chronic illness and disability, the secrets between mothers and daughters, the harm we do to the ones we love the most—and all the triumphs, big and small, that keep us afloat.
"Beautiful in its honesty and vulnerability, this is a powerful story about dreams and bodily agency that sings from the heart.”—Natalia Sylvester, award-winning author of Breathe and Count Back From Ten
Chicago Public Library Best Book of the Year
NCTE Notable Poetry Book and Verse Novel Selection
School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
★ “Ani’s aching, determined verse narration weaves English and Spanish words into striking imagery as she navigates tumultuous emotions and her loving but stifling relationship with Mami. Mendez, also disabled and Dominican American, explores post-traumatic stress and its effects with both compassion and honesty, respecting Mami’s trauma without diminishing the pain her overprotectiveness causes Ani. Religious belief is similarly represented with nuance. . . . A painful yet hopeful exploration of family, trauma, faith, and healing.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
★ “Via myriad poetic forms and sensorial verse, Mendez viscerally details the emotional family tumult of grief, mistrust, and resentment alongside Ani’s heartfelt quest to reunite with water.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
★ “The nuanced depiction of disability, intergenerational conflict, and family trauma make this a must-have for all middle grade shelves.”—School Library Journal, starred review
★ “Mendez’s novel beautifully crafts a first-person narrative with concrete poetry, forming shapes of teardrops, sea creatures, and storms to capture the physical and emotional journey of Aniana’s desire to return to the water and navigate her newly diagnosed disability. Stanzas with English and Spanish dialogue, repetition, and spacing visually add to the tension and distance Aniana experiences with her family and friends.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review
“Aniana del Mar Jumps In is a story of love, loss, and growth that explores how our actions can unintentionally harm those who we love, how we learn to heal from that pain, and how we grieve not only those who we’ve lost but the people we once were, as well as embracing who we are becoming.”—Booklist
“Aniana del Mar Jumps in is about trusting our own bodies when they tell us what they can and cannot do, trusting our own hearts when they point the way, and trusting one another when we say who we are and what we need. Jasminne Mendez uses multiple poetic forms and deft lyricism to explore the knotty intaglios of family and community, guiding readers through multiple emotional storms to a rousing, heart-warming conclusion.”—David Bowles, award-winning author of They Call Me Güero
“Reading this made me feel like I have been holding my breath without knowing it. This book made me exhale. Similarly, I know that so many young people will see themselves in this book, exhale and say FINALLY. Such an important book.”—Elisabet Velasquez, award-winning author of When We Make It
“I both cried and rooted for Aniana as she navigates the new realities of her body and journeys to protect the parts of her that, even in illness, are fully hers to claim. Beautiful in its honesty and vulnerability, this is a powerful story about dreams and bodily agency that sings from the heart.”—Natalia Sylvester, award-winning author of Breathe and Count Back From Ten