Cover Image: Water in May

Water in May

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Member Reviews

Mari is fifteen and when she found out that she was pregnant, she soon grows to love her baby. In him, she sees a chance for a family member who will always love her and never leave her. But when she finds out that her son has a heart condition, it all gets even more complicated.

Mari was a child who truly acted that way throughout the novel.  I understand this novel was supposed to focus on a child who didn't receive love, but she was truly a baby giving birth to a baby.  It was a really disappointing when the synopsis sounded so good.  It was truly just poor writing and was an unfortunate read.
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Unfortunately this book wasn't for me and I did not finish it. Thank you for the opportunity :)
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This is definitely one of the best books I've read on teen pregnancy, and it's a debut, at that. As soon as I was  Maribel "Mari" Pujols finds herself pregnant with her boyfriend, Bertie's child, at the young age of fifteen. At that, her abuela wants little to do with her or the pregnancy itself. However, her girl gang and Dr. Love, her OB-GYN, are supportive and wonderfully understanding of her complicated situation, up until she receives news of a potentially heart-defect through her baby's ultrasound, HLHS.

 It's also a very short, very quick read, which is a slight bummer. I read the first half of it, the day I received it, and I stayed awake till 6AM to finish the rest of it. True story. Everything wraps up within the holiday season, this book would've been the perfect publication for Christmas. (Secretly, I wanted their baby to be named Angel.) And after the book was finished, I literally felt like I was apart of their family. It was so emotionally-draining.

 Maribel + Bertie = I ship them. That is all.

 All of the medical aspects are carefully-explained and analyzed, so the reader has the capability to understand almost everything. The author is actually a pediatric cardiologist, and I recently stopped by her website. She supports a lot of heart-defect charities and communities, so I decided to link to her site here.

 Like I said, this book is very very short, which is something that deserves more attention. Although every aspect is given the right amount of attention. We only have one moment to emotionally grasp every important scene, depending on how stonecold you are. Considering the amount of familial grievances, complicated family affairs, Bertie being Bertie, and the ending itself, I had to take a few minutes to gather my feelz. Plus, I wasn't exactly fulfilled by The Epilogue. How did they get home? How did they afford all of that medical equipment? How was their first car-ride? Gimme the solid answers.

Side-note: Mari is very critical of others, considering her current situation. If that's the appropriate word. Immature, maybe. And though, she's obviously a fifteen-year-old MC, and pregnant, and some of these quotes have the potentiality to be changed, she makes tons of degrading comments toward the culture of the others. It wasn't something I was okay with.

 "I'm sorry, we don't have a Dr. Love here. Was that your OB at your regular hospital?" The nurse, whose skin color is the same as Abuela's, but wears a bindi on her forehead, smiles at me like she's being helpful. I want to bite that bindi off and slap her 'til she gets some sense. (56%) 

 For a debut, this is mostly magnificent. It reminded me of Toni Cade Bambara's short story, THE LESSON and a less romantic, familial-focused version of Katie Cotugno's HOW TO LOVE. Overall, I loved it. It's jampacked with realism and sadness and medical terminology and great friends, so you'll probably love most of this book as much as I did.
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This book was just not my cup of tea and I was not able to finish it. Thank you for this opportunity, though!
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This was okay. There were parts I like as well as parts I didn't like. Not my favorite read of the year. Also there were so homophobic elements and other things I would consider a trigger/content warning..
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This book is written by a pediatric cardiologist and is based on a true story.  It is raw, realistic and very sad.  The characters are not likable and their situations are lamentable.  It is, however, for the most part, an excellent story.  Fifteen year old Mari Pujols is pregnant and she learns that her baby has a serious heart defect.  Her family and the baby's father want her to have an abortion.  At her school, girls being pregnant is not unusual, girls having abortions isn't unusual, girls having babies isn't unusual, however, a girl who has an abortion because her baby has a heart defect is unusual and a girl who has a baby with a heart defect is unusual.  The story is heart wrenching and I think that people will enjoy it.
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This story was emotional and engaging. I fully rooted for the main character in her struggles and wanted everything to resolve well for her. 
The romance element was sweet and just what I would hope for in this book. And the ending was heartwarming.
There were some elements of homophobia in some of the things the characters said which I found very upsetting. But I did still find this to be an important read.
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This is a heartbreaking but important novel.  I enjoyed the writing style immensely, and found that the more sensitive elements of the plot were very well handled.
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Mari is Dominican, pregnant, and a fighter. Honestly her improper grammar almost made me quit reading before chapter three. Then we learn about Angelo.

The writing style is a bit difficult to follow. Once I finished the book I found the guide to slange in the back, but this wasn't very helpful on my Kindle. Overall, I skipped the Dominican and read the rest of the book. The story takes off quickly and while Mari is harsh, and a bit rough around the edges, overall the book was enjoyable and easy to finish.

I've already talked a bit about Mari, but want to talk a bit more about her. In the beginning of the book, I really disliked her. She's brash and always looking for a fight. After getting to know her a bit more, I realized that she's a strong woman. She's determined to protect her baby at all costs.

Overall, Water in May is a touching story about a mother's love. Even if the mother is young, unmarried, and stands up for what she believes is right. Water in May has a lot of medical jargon, but it's explained brilliantly, by Dr. Love. It's a heartfelt story, that I will carry with me in the future.
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This was an interesting read, not light or quick, the spanish slang took some getting used to and it death with a heavy subject matter. I found it well written and it kept my attention, I read it over a weekend!
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I received an ARC of Water in May from Netgalley. I was in a contemporary mood, and felt like reading a sad story, so this was just what I was looking for.


I enjoyed the writing in this book, and the flawless combination of Spanish and English in both the dialogue and the descriptions. English words that Mari didn’t know were italicised, as were the Spanish phrases. This book is very fast-paced, which I thought was great as it allowed the reader to see snapshots of how Mari was dealing with her pregnancy at the different stages.

It was interesting to read about how Mari experiences life as a light-skinned Latina, as I was able to relate to it quite a lot (I am a light-skinned Eurasian). She has had a hard life, and she is only fifteen-years-old. Thus, she makes mistakes, isn’t sure what she wants – after all, she is still a teenager. She grew up so much in just a few months.

The reasoning behind the title Water in May is explained within the text, and in my opinion fits to the flow of the text. I enjoyed having this little tidbit of extra information.

However, there were several aspects that disappointed me. The one that still surprises me after having had some time to think about this book, is how quickly Mari forgave everyone for how they had treated her before and_or during her pregnancy. Her grandmother is very abusive to her during her childhood, and I just was surprised that Mari was able to overlook that. Also, Mari is almost raped by an acquaintance of her grandmother’s boyfriend while a group looks on, and the implications of no one trying to help her at first are dismissed. A character that I absolutely hated was Bertie, because he just never acted as though Mari’s feelings were important, he wanted every other family member from both sides to be happy, and often ignored the fact that Mari wouldn’t be happy about him contacting other family members. It was awful to read that, because it made me so annoyed on Mari’s behalf. He is also so jealous and possessive of Mari, and I wasn’t happy that she says that she thinks this is something positive at the end of the story because it isn’t.

The doctor equates having a penis with the male gender, which is transantagonistic. Mari is very homoantagonistic and this is never addressed by anyone else during the story. There is also casual ableism during the entire story, and it is used by a lot of the characters. There are sex-worker-antagonistic phrases in the text. There is also a passage that shames people who need to use viagra, which I thought was unnecessary. None of these issues were called out in the text.


The writing was beautiful, however I feel like some issues were not resolved realistically, and there were a lot of microaggressions. Thus, I ended up not having an enjoyable reading experience.

Trigger warnings: attempted rape, death of newborn, surgery on a newborn, transantagonism, ableism, homoantagonism, sex-worker-antagonism.
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And so begins the story of 15-year-old Mari Pujols. She believes the baby she is carrying will love her unconditionally and never leave. Not like her mother who took off when she was only eight years old and not like her father who is in prison. It is Mari's hope that this baby will care for her, unlike her abuela. That the baby will stick around more than her on-again-off-again boyfriend. The baby will grow into a little human loyal to her as her two best friends. But doctors discover that the fetus has a birth defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome: half of the baby's heart is missing. Now Mari is forced to make a life-altering decision.

All while reading I kept thinking this story is so realistic. Somewhere, sometime there is a young teenage girl going through this heartbreaking struggle with little to no support. It wasn't until toward the end of the book that I learned Water in May is based on true events. Oh, this makes it an even more special debut. I haven't felt this much sympathy for a fictional character in a long time.

Be warned that Water in May will cause waterworks in your eyes. Also, there is a lot of Spanish language and Dominican slang that may stunt reading; use the glossary at end of the book. I recommend it to teenage moms, younger-than-usual abuelas and young adults. Hopefully it will help families understand small blessings.

Happy Early Pub Day, Ismée Amiel Williams! Water in May will be available Tuesday, September 12.

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Back when I first heard about Water in May, it was under a different name and I had no idea it was a diverse read.

Out of all the book deals talked about today, @IsmeeWilliams's debut sounds especially epic.
— Eli Madison (@thesilverwords) May 25, 2016

The tweet pinned to my twitter talks about how I'm anticipating the day when we won't have these grand diversity movements, as great as they are. Instead, YA literature itself will be diverse and reflect life as it truly is. With Water in May, Williams challenged stereotypes I didn't even know I had and restored hope in a dream that I'd previously thought was far away.

This story surprised me in every way possible. The main character, Mari, is fifteen and pregnant. She's fierce but loving to her family and friends. She's got quick fists and a big heart. Despite Mari being rough and tough around the edges, Williams painted a picture of her in my mind as a girl who's just trying to make it in a world that's much bigger than any of us. Somehow, Mari endeared herself to me, and I came to care about her story, her friends, her community, and her desperate desire to take care of the baby who will love her like no one else. The writing completely transported me to the world of Mari and baby Angelo, and I didn't want the story to end when I reached the last page.

I was also impressed by the depth to the side characters. With Angelo's pregnancy and birth, Mari begins to see more in her boyfriend, her grandmother, and the people around her. I loved watching her grow and see her forgive and come through difficulties with the people close to her. Mari really learns how to be happy and thankful and begin building her life as an adult, giving the novel a bit of a coming-of-age feel to it.

My only criticism is of the personal sort. This novel won't hit everyone the same way. For me, it didn't hit just right. It's not for lack of a point or emotional appeal or character growth or good writing--it has all those things--but I thought it could stand up to more plot. The beginning and ending are excellent, but the in-between of doctor visits and moving from place to place wasn't quite enough. But overall? A solid debut. I would really like to see more of Williams' work in this setting, and I'm looking forward to her novels to come. 3 stars.
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*4.5 Stars*

Truthfully, I often avoid contemporaries like this. They can tend to be saddening, so I usually stick to the fluffier ones. But the synopsis of this book got me curious, so I knew that I had to read it to see what happens.

Water in May ended up being fabulous! It both broke and touched my heart in all the best ways, and I felt like I could really feel a raw emotional connection to this story. 

For a brief synopsis, this book follows the perspective of a girl named Mari. She is only fifteen, but has gotten pregnant with the help of her boyfriend in the hopes of finally feeling appreciated by a family member. For Mari, all is good until she finds out that her baby has a heart defect that could affect its life in the most negative of ways. How will she deal with this so everyone in her life benefits?

Protagonist Mari was honestly such a good character. She was so triumphant and always pushed through her struggles, and instead of feeling ashamed that she was pregnant with an unhealthy fetus at 15, she learned to embrace and appreciate it. Even though it is not typically accepted to become pregnant at such a young age, I was able to sense that Mari only had the best intentions in doing so. The one fault I had with this book, though, was that her family members were unrealistically happy for her when she became pregnant. Shouldn't we expect anger?

The plot was pretty average, but that's okay. It was definitely existent with smoothly executed events that pulled my heartstrings, and I don't expect much more than that.

To conclude, Water in May was absolutely unlike anything I've ever read before. It made me feel the kind of strong emotional connection that I almost never feel when reading books. If you are the type of reader who enjoys contemporaries that shatter your heart and then mend it back together again, then this book is for sure the best match for you!

*I received a digital ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*
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Wow, this book was unique, I mean one is to read about being young and pregnant and trust me, I have read several books which, each of them was so vivid and moving, however, Water in May stands out because the baby to be has complications. I think in the genre, of YA books it's good to see these early pregnancy novels coming back, closing paranormal craze of writing and being more down to earth, although I like those too. 

Mari Pajols is longing to have her baby thus she will have someone who will always with her and will love her... Growing up with her grandma hasn't been easy, she has absent parents whom she doesn't remember at all, but she knows her dad loves her. although he's in jail, but he sometimes answers her letters. Mari longs to have love in her world, she is not understood not at home, not in school, and her boyfriend's mother is the most evil person. Sounds something familiar? 

I would write a spoiler, but I wont, that's the whole point of reading..just to let you know - this book has heavy content, Spanish in every other sentence and the slang! Oh, as a reader I got to know all Mari's grammar and punctuation errors. I also found this pregnancy sad, because there are pregnancies who are carried at the very young age and they do have these gene issues, something not right during the a woman in general, I think it is something completely heartbreaking for both parents and does not matter the age, although being more mature we have more stability and we see more than a 15 year old who seeks love. 

I was most fascinated by the medical surgery staff roles, completely surprising and down to earth attitude, especially when one is 15 years old...
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I generally enjoyed this book. It was very emotional and I could not even imagine having to deal with such heavy decisions as the main character, Mari, had to deal with. 
Unfortunately, the book contained a lot of Spanish/Dominican language, including slang, and did not include translations until the end, which made it mildly difficult to read and fully get into. I know that this is written from the p.o.v. of a fifteen year old girl, but the language and grammar,  in general, was difficult to get past as well. 
All in all, it was an enjoyable, quick read.
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I did not finish this book around 25%. It was hard to understand the characters and who was who. The dialogue was a bit forced and too full of slang for me. 

I liked the main character enough but the secondary characters made the book hard to get through. 

Thanks to Netgalley for the chance to review this book.
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When Mari finds herself pregnant, with Bertie's baby, she is supported by her friends as they navigate teenage life and school still.

Her friends, Yaz, Teri and Heavenly accompany her to her twenty one week scan, excited together and find themselves meeting Dr Love, a young good looking doctor.

Then they get told that the healthy baby boy is actually going to need surgery as he will be born with only half a heart.

Bertie and Mari argue and he leaves, Mari gets support from her friends and grandma or abuela, over the situation she and her baby face at first u til she has to move in with her friends secretly. Then she finds out her baby, Angelo is struggling to breathe as his condition worsens the closer to the end of her pregnancy she gets.

The worst happens, at 36 weeks Mari's waters break, perhaps not helped by the stress caused due to an assault attempt which leaves her shocked and distressed.

But just how will Angelo fare coming into life and facing major surgeries straight away?

So emotional, I can't imagine how a young teen would feel dealing with all of this happening but its captured well in here. Anyone with as much support and love around her despite arguments etc is lucky and we know Angelo will be loved by them all even though I read the last part of the book with bated breath over his condition. You don't want to miss out on experiencing this teens pregnancy and the courage and hope she keeps and grows against all Angelo's odds of survival.

Many thanks to the publishers for allowing me to review this book for them!
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