"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
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.
Jasminne Mendez is a best-selling Dominican-American poet, educator, translator, playwright and award winning author of several books for children and adults. She has had poetry and essays published in numerous journals and anthologies and she is the author of two multi-genre collections including Island of Dreams
(Floricanto Press, 2013) which won an International Latino Book Award. Her debut poetry collection City Without Altar
was a finalist for the Noemi Press poetry prize and was released in August 2022(Noemi Press) and her debut picture book Josefina’s Habichuelas
(Arte Publico Press, 2021) was the Writer’s League of Texas Children’s Book Discovery Prize Winner. She has translated the work of NYT Best Selling authors Amanda Gorman, Nikole Hannah-Jones, René Watson and Calribel Ortega. She is an MFA graduate of the creative writing program at the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University and a University of Houston alumni. She is the Program Director for the literary arts non-profit Tintero Projects and she lives and works in Houston, TX.
★ “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