A novel in prose has to have several qualities to capture my interest. Like all story telling formats, there needs to be a connection to the characters. Next, the prose has to go beyond being a collection of poetic lines—a flow that makes for a page turning experience. Finally, telling the story in verse should not make you wish it had been done in a more traditional fiction type novel.

WAVE won me over on all accounts.

Thirteen-year-old Ava loves to surf and to sing. Singing and reading Rumi poems settle her mild OCD, and catching waves with her best friend, Phoenix, lets her fit in—her olive skin looks tan, not foreign. But then Ava has to spend the summer before ninth grade volunteering at the hospital, to follow in her single mother’s footsteps to become a doctor. And when Phoenix’s past lymphoma surges back, not even surfing, singing, or poetry can keep them afloat, threatening Ava’s hold on the one place and the one person that make her feel like she belongs. With ocean-like rhythm and lyricism, Wave is about a girl who rides the waves, tumbles, and finds her way back to the shore. 


Wave will appeal to an upper middle grade audience or ages 10-15. The setting is one I have not seen too often in MG: A Southern California beach town in the 1980s. You feel for Ava’s misery with a dad far away she’s not connected with, a mom who is pushing her toward a career as a doctor—not a good fit for Ava, and the often racist taunts when she is at the beach with her best friend Phoenix.

A gut wrenching reality takes hold when Phoenix has another battle with the relentless cancer invading his body. Ava is there for him but will it ever be enough to save her only connection to the world she has been put in?

The spacing and layout of the prose goes along with Ava’s emotional journey. No worries if you shy away form 300+ page books as the poetic styling never fills up an entire page and won’t take you long to read. Occasional illustrations also provide a nice accompaniment.

Here’s hoping to hear more from Ava as she is a character worth anyone’s time. Another WAVE would be welcome.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: March 29, 2022 PAGE COUNT: 320


  1. The Persian culture is brought forth in a wonderful fashion. Many of the words I had never heard but were thoughtfully explained in footnotes.
  2. MG readers will be amazed at the effort it took in the 80s to save a series of favorite songs. No instant downloads of your favorites. Instead, you had to tape them yourself from the radio and hope the disc jockey doesn’t blab while the song is playing. After days or weeks of effort you’ve hopefully created a nice cassette tape to share. Wave also has me now listening to an 80’s FM station and it really was a great musical time period.
  3. I’ve never surfed but the experience seemed exhilarating. It also served to connect me to the time period and place—one so different from where I grew up.
  4. Ava’s poetic narration takes you on your own wave of emotions.
  5. The song Ava writes is saved for the end as it should be. There is also a fun listing of the cassette tape music tracks chosen my Phoenix and Ava for each other.


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 dianafarid.com.
Twitter and Instagram: @_artelixir


I received a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. Comments are always welcome!


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to WAVE

  1. I don’t normally read poetry but your review makes this sound a story I shouldn’t miss! Thanks for the review!

  2. I don’t usually read novels in verse but I love the 1980’s setting. And thanks for the reminder about cassettes. Things have changed so much.

  3. Sue Heavenrich says:

    1980s would place it as a … historical novel, right? what with cassettes – like, will readers even grok them? 80s silliness aside, this sounds like an intriguing story.

  4. I just requested Wave at the library, but it’s on order. Love the title as it fits the story themes. I love free verse, so I’m looking forward to reading this story. Great share today!

  5. I loved this book when I read it. Thanks for your always informative review.

  6. carolbaldwin says:

    Great review. I’m a fan of novels in verse. thanks for sharing this.

  7. I love novels in verse. I will be looking out for a copy of this one. Thanks for a terrific review.

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