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Aniana del Mar Jumps In

by Jasminne Mendez

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455571,754 (4)None
Juvenile Fiction. Juvenile Literature. HTML:"Beautiful in its honesty and vulnerability, this is a powerful story about dreams and bodily agency that sings from the heart.â?ťâ??Natalia Sylvester, award-winning author of Breathe and Count Back From Ten
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 Aniâ??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 mostâ??and all the triumphs, big and small, that kee
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Ani is happiest in the water. She’s on a YMCA swim team and has won medals, and a swim coach is interested in her for an elite camp. But Ani and her Papi have kept her swimming a secret from Mami. Mami’s brother drowned in a hurricane and she still suffers the grief of not being able to save him. Then Ani begins to suffer swollen and stiff joints, fever and pain. It takes doctors a while to diagnose her with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Mami, angry after finding out Ani has been swimming behind her back, believes it is a punishment from God for lying. Ani struggles with the diagnosis and is frustrated that no one wants to her to have any agency in managing her disease. Metaphoric and descriptive language that expresses the frustration, anger, deception, joy. A realistic and revealing journey from denial to acceptance. Believable. ( )
  Salsabrarian | May 30, 2024 |
Representation: Biracial (half Black and half Latino/a,) Latino/a and Black characters
Trigger warnings: Implied PTSD, death of a child and brother in a hurricane in the past, grief and loss depiction, bullying, child abuse, physical assault and injury, chronic and physical illness, near-death experience
Score: Eight out of ten.

This one wasn't perfect. But it was close. The library only had Aniana del Mar Jumps In in eBook form so it was more difficult to get but I got it anyway. The blurb seemed intriguing, so I headed in hoping for an enjoyable read, but when I closed the final page, I found it a lot heavier than expected.

It starts with a flashback involving Aniana 'Ani' del Mar experiencing swimming for the first time when she was six (better late than never) before cutting to part one of the central storyline (there are six parts) with her now being a competitive swimmer, at least for her age (12.) Everything looks ordinary in the opening pages until she says something's wrong with her body, as she feels pain in her joints, but she doesn't know what it is yet.

There's a subplot that soon turns out to be a critical part of the narrative, where Aniana's mother remembers a traumatic event where she lost her brother, Mateo, in a hurricane and she never completely moved on ever since. I get that losing someone is difficult, but the way Aniana's mother tries to cope makes her look like a helicopter parent. Let me get this straight: the protagonist's family is dysfunctional, as her father is barely there and her mother doesn't want her to swim, fearing she may lose Aniana too. Aniana's father takes her away to swim in secret, but that didn't last forever as her mother found out, and now banned swimming. Is it me or does it feel like an antithesis to another novel I've read before? Aniana's mother forced her out of swimming instead of in.

I liked Aniana as a character the most, but her parents aren't role models, and the side characters like Maria Tere and Delilah only appear for a few pages, but I would've liked to see more. The pacing is slow, with the book lasting 400 pages, but I didn't mind, since it was enough to keep the creation going. The writing style is unique and Jasminne Mendez executed it well. Finally! Actual poetry! It took me long enough to find one after reading spaced out prose for a while.

Did I mention Aniana's family is Christian? The middle four parts feature Aniana trying to cope with the swimming ban, and when a doctor diagnosed her with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA,) all Aniana's mother can do is to pray it away, but advice from a therapist to do physical therapy also helped. The therapist says swimming can reduce the effects of JIA, but Aniana's mother is steadfast, even when she tries out for an elite swim camp, her mother caught her again since the ban still applies (she resorted to physical measures once.) However. The conclusion, part six, felt like an afterthought. It took Aniana's mother to almost lose her son, Matti (to the sea,) for her to change her mind? Really? At least the prohibition is gone now and the finish is heartwarming.

Addendum: Matti started swimming at age four (which isn't too late.) There's no exploration of intersectionality (since Aniana is a young biracial Dominican American girl with a chronic illness.) Why is this?
( )
  Law_Books600 | May 20, 2024 |
"Aniana del Mar Jumps In" by Jasminne Mendez is a captivating middle-grade novel set in Puerto Rico. It follows Aniana's journey of self-discovery amidst family dynamics and cultural heritage. Mendez's lyrical prose and vivid imagery immerse readers in the beauty and resilience of the island. With its themes of identity and belonging, this book is perfect for young readers seeking diverse representation and heartfelt storytelling. ( )
  triciayarotsky6 | Apr 15, 2024 |
Gr 4–8—Swimming is everything to Dominican American Aniana, but she must hide it from Mami, whose trauma
around the ocean runs deep. When a juvenile arthritis diagnosis reveals her secret and hinders swimming, Ani
rebuilds herself. This novel in verse thoughtfully tackles family dynamics, chronic disability, and coming of age.
  BackstoryBooks | Apr 1, 2024 |
Atalented Dominican American swimmer fights to keep doing what she loves.

Twelve-year-old Aniana del Mar lives up to her name: Living on the island of Galveston, Texas, the water feels like home. But that’s a secret she keeps with her easygoing Papi, who sneaks her to the YMCA for swim practice and meets. Mami discourages Ani from swimming; after witnessing her own brother’s drowning during a hurricane, Mami is terrified of losing Ani and her 4-year-old brother, Matti, too. When Ani can no longer hide the joint swelling that plagues her when she overexerts herself, however, her secret’s out. Mami, who belongs to a strict Christian church, is furious, insisting that Ani’s juvenile idiopathic arthritis is God’s punishment for lying. Though Ani’s physical therapist endorses swimming, Mami bans Ani from the water she craves. As her family’s bonds fray, Ani grapples with the challenges of invisible illness, including loss of bodily autonomy and others’ lack of understanding. Incorporating concrete poems, haiku, and tanka, 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. Supportive, diverse secondary characters add warmth.

A painful yet hopeful exploration of family, trauma, faith, and healing. (author’s note) (Fiction. 9-13)

-Kirkus Review
  CDJLibrary | Jun 10, 2023 |
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Juvenile Fiction. Juvenile Literature. HTML:"Beautiful in its honesty and vulnerability, this is a powerful story about dreams and bodily agency that sings from the heart.â?ťâ??Natalia Sylvester, award-winning author of Breathe and Count Back From Ten
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 Aniâ??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 mostâ??and all the triumphs, big and small, that kee

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