July 06, 2006

A Perfect Daughter, Everywhere Except Inside

Wait for Me, by An Na, is wrenching novel about priorities, the past, selfishness and love.

Mina's mother wants her to be perfect: a genius with the Best Grades, going to the Best College, marrying the Best Husband, and having the Best Life. A star-spangled happily-ever-after would be the best, in her eyes, to make up for her own less than illustrious life. But Mina's not the girl her Uhmma hopes for her to be. She can't take anymore of her mother's tirades against her father, her cool disdain of her little sister, Suma, whose hearing aid and sleepwalking only make matters worse. Mina's life is a house of cards about to collapse. She's lying, stealing, using people and scheming: she's getting out. What's holding her back is her little sister. She won't ever survive her cruel mother alone. But what can Mina do?

Suma, albeit blindly, senses the drift of her sister's pain. Something isn't right, she knows, but she feels flawed and helpless against it. She's trying so hard to grow up, trying to have her own voice and be an individual, but she was a sickly baby, and a miserably scrawny child, and it's so hard to even get her mother to look at her. She feels Mina drifting away, but what can she do?

The young musician with the soulful eyes walks into the fragile balance of Mina and Suma's life, and everything implodes. Mina knows what her mother wants from her, what Suma needs. But what does Mina want?

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