February 2020

Alex is a baseball player. A great one. His papi is pushing him to go pro, but Alex maybe wants to be a poet. Not that Papi would understand, or ever allow it.

Isa is a dancer. She’d love to go pro except her Havana-born mom is dead set against it. Just like she’s dead set against her daughter falling for a Latino. And Isa’s private-school-Park Avenue life, what with her dad losing his job and her older brother struggling with mental illness, is falling apart.

Fate–and the 1 train–bring Alex and Isa together. Is it enough to keep them together when they need each other most?


I’m so excited for you to meet Isa and Alex! I hope you love them as much as I do. This story is about NYC teens from opposite sides of the tracks (literally) who fall in love while trying to manage family expectations and their highly scheduled and chaotic lives. It’s available for pre-order NOW from the following vendors:


"Fierce and tender—and absolutely worth reading."

-Kirkus Starred Review


"Heartfelt, heartbreaking, and - yes! - even a little heart-healing too"

-Carolyn Mackler, Printz Honor recipient


"Realistic and compelling...Young adult readers will connect with Mari’s feisty personality, strength, and vulnerability."



"There wasn’t a chapter that didn’t put tears in my eyes or make me ache...WATER IN MAY is a prime example of the power of young adult literature."


WATER IN MAY, the novel

What if your baby had half a heart?

Fifteen-year-old Mari Pujols believes that the baby she’s carrying will finally give her a family member who loves her and won’t ever leave. Not like her mama, who took off when she was eight; or her papi, who’s in jail; or her abuela, who wants as little to do with her as possible. But when doctors discover a potentially fatal heart defect in the fetus, Mari faces choices she never imagined.

Surrounded by her loyal girl crew, her on-and-off boyfriend, and a dedicated doctor, Mari navigates an experience that could devastate the bravest of women. But Mari’s a fighter. She won’t give up. And while Mari’s future is as uncertain as her unborn baby’s, her darkest moments shed light on what it truly means to be part of a family.

  • Publisher: Amulet Books (ABRAMS)

  • Genre: young adult contemporary realistic fiction

  • Release Date: September 12, 2017

  • Cover Design: Siobhán Gallagher

  • ISBN: 1-4197-2539-4

  • EAN: 9781419725395

  • Page Count: 320

  • Rights: World English

  • Formats: Hardcover, Ebook


Praise for WATER IN MAY

"Full of spot-on cultural texture and packing an emotional punch, this is an unusual take on the teen-pregnancy problem novel...Williams presents her experience in a way that demands not pity but respect while also reminding readers of Mari’s heartbreaking youth and innocence at unexpected times." –Kirkus Starred Review

"Diversity in books has certainly risen in popularity over the past few years, but I have yet to find a book that made me squeal in happiness because of how closely the similarities in our cultures were...With Dominican slang and festive music, Williams’ book gives readers the diverse, heartfelt story they didn’t know they were waiting for." –teenreads

A Best New Young Adult Book of 2017 –Children's Book Review

"Every once in a while, I read a story that’s truly special because it exposes the best of humanity in the worst and unfairest situations..." -Stay on the Page

"A heartwarming tale about how one life can change and challenge others..." –Pages Unbound

"I'd buy hundreds of copies of this book and give them to teens all over the world to show them what love is and what really matters. How we need to bring each other up instead of tear each other down. That, right there, is what life is about, and I’m thankful to [WATER IN MAY] for reinserting that in my heart." –

"Water In May is one of the best debuts this year. One that will make your heart break and then give you hope. It had a stunning cast of diverse characters, beautifully forged friendships and a kind of coming-of-age story I’ve never seen before in YA books." –A Thousand Words



Interested in using WATER IN MAY in the classroom? Below you will find a Common Core Standards TEACHING GUIDE for WATER IN MAY by Amulet Books. You can also download it HERE.

Thinking of using WATER IN MAY in your book club? Below you can find the book club DISCUSSION GUIDE for WATER IN MAY by Amulet Books. You can also download it HERE.

I am a doctor, researcher, wife, mother and writer!  I live in New York City with my husband and our three daughters. I love to read, travel, cook and play with my kids and our dog, Rowan, who is commonly mistaken for a muppet. You can follow Rowan on his own Instagram @redrowandoodle. (You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter at @IsmeeWilliams).

Here are some FAQs:

Are you a real doctor?

YES! I trained and practiced pediatric cardiology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City for 15 years. Currently, I see patients in the Bronx at Montefiore Hospital. 

How do you know Spanish?

My mother was born in Cuba. My abuelos (grandparents in Spanish), lived with us when I was growing up.

How did you become a writer?

When I was pregnant and on bedrest with my third baby, I picked up a YA novel, fell in love, and decided I wanted to write something like that–something that would deeply affect a reader. Water in May is my first novel.

Who represents you?

Jim McCarthy of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC is my most excellent agent.

Do you do book events?

YES! I love talking to kids (I did go into Pediatrics for a reason!). Please contact me if you are interested in scheduling an event at a festival, library, book store or school.




Click below to read some of my past interviews and blog posts!

"What was your inspiration for writing WATER IN MAY?" –Adventures in YA Publishing

"The insides of my white coat pockets are marked by crayons..." –YA Interrobang

YA Open Mic, 14 YA authors discuss identity –BNTEENblog

11 Authors share the books they want taught in schools –BOOKish

How being a physician inspired me –BOOKish

First Words, My journey from doctor to researcher to writer –Amherst College Magazine

Coffee with a Canine: Ismée and Rowan –Campaign for the American Reader

WATER IN MAY dream cast –My Book, The Movie

Want to help?

Heart defects are the most common of all birth defects. Roughly 8 in 1000 babies born - that is around 40,000 babies each year in the USA - are born with structural problems in their heart. The term doctors use for these problems is Congenital (meaning you are born with it) Heart Disease - or CHD.

CHD comes in all forms. Every heart created is like a flower.

Significant advances have been made over the past twenty years in the field of pediatric cardiology. These include improvements in fetal detection (finding out about the heart problem during pregnancy so the parents and doctors know what to expect and do when the baby is born), newborn surgery and care (some babies cannot leave the hospital without a life-saving heart operation), causes of CHD (why the heart defect happens), and long-term support. Yet still, only 60% of babies born with the heart problem that Angelo and Amelia had will be expected to live long enough to celebrate their first birthday.

I have partnered with Colin's Kids to help raise awareness of CHD.  A portion of sales of WATER IN MAY will go to Colin's Kids to raise money for medical research as well as families in need.



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