Fans of Jane the Virgin will find much to love about The Go-Between, a coming-of-age novel from bestselling author Veronica Chambers, who with humor and humanity explores issues of identity and belonging in a world that is ever-changing. She is the envy of every teenage girl in Mexico City. Her mother is a glamorous telenovela actress. Her father is the go-to voice-over talent for blockbuster films. Hers is a world of private planes, chauffeurs, paparazzi and gossip columnists. Meet Camilla del Valle—Cammi to those who know her best. When Cammi’s mom gets cast in an American television show and the family moves to LA, things change, and quickly. Her mom’s first role is playing a not-so-glamorous maid in a sitcom. Her dad tries to find work but dreams about returning to Mexico. And at the posh, private Polestar Academy, Cammi’s new friends assume she’s a scholarship kid, the daughter of a domestic. At first Cammi thinks playing along with the stereotypes will be her way of teaching her new friends a lesson. But the more she lies, the more she wonders: Is she only fooling herself?
Camilla’s mother is a famous Mexican telenovela actress. After her secret of taking anti-depressives is leaked to the media, her mother decides to take a sabbatical. Then her agent tells her of an opportunity to star in an US TV series. The catch though is she’s supposed to play a maid. Camilla’s family goes to LA where she’s enrolled in a prestigious school. Her classmates are clueless on who her mother is. Camilla at first enjoys not being recognized and when two girls assume her mother is a maid and she’s on scholarship, she plays along. She figures, it can’t hurt and she can see what Americans really think of Mexicans. What she finds though shocks her and also makes her confused on where she stands.
What worked: I love having Latina protagonists and books that show that world without relying on trite stereotypes. As someone who is proud of her own Mexican heritage, I love when books mirror one part of my culture. Extra points for showing a Latina with loving parents. In this case, the beginning shows Camilla’s Mexico City home where she wants for nothing. She loves her mami but admits it bothers her that her so-called friends only like her so they can get close to her famous mother. The scene where a best friend betrays a family secret that ends up snowballing into an unexpected opportunity worked. I liked seeing Camilla’s world, along with her insecurities.
What I had problems with though where the stereotypes that were throughout the novel. I get that this was to show the current problems our country has and how some people just assume that all those who are Latino are Cholos, drug addicts, and/or live in East LA. I wanted Camilla to speak out more on this and not just fade into the background.
Saying that though, there were a few incidents, like the one where a rich man assumes Camilla’s father is a valet, that shows a tiny glimpse on the blatant racism. I would have loved to have seen more of these experiences in the book.
Also there was a lot of telling. There is more than a few scenes where the author tells us about the history of racism in the United States. Instead of 'telling', I wanted to see more scenes where the characters encounter racism. The scenes where her American friends find out that she’s lied do work. As does how the author weaves in the Spanish so readers don’t have to Google the translation.
A twist on the whole view of immigrants told through the eyes of a wealthy Mexican teen.