Spotlight on Something in Between, Plus Interview, Chapter Reveal, & Giveaway!
Today we're spotlighting Melissa de la Cruz's novel, Something in Between! Read on for more about Melissa and her novel, plus an interview, excerpt, and giveaway!
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
MELISSA DE LA CRUZ: Definitely Royce. I think I’m more of a Royce than a Jasmine to be honest. He’s the one that wants to be a writer, and is more unsure of himself. Jasmine is very strong, and I modeled her after friends I knew who were pre-med, volleyball recruit, Oxford scholars. I was an overachiever too but not at that level.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
MELISSA: The title, after I had written a synopsis of the book. My editor said “how about this phrase from your notes: Something in Between”? I was like, yeah! Awesome.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
MELISSA: It looks like a very “Seventeen” book. Like it harks back to the magazine brand, which I like very much.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2016?
MELISSA: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. I’m a huge fan of Leigh’s and she’s a friend! How lucky am I. Not lucky enough to score an ARC though LOL!
YABC: What was your favorite book in 2015?
MELISSA: Oooh. Hard one. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. We are living in a great time for YA fantasy. Also Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi, which was just exquisite. Also my BFF Margie’s Black Widow Forever Red was thrilling. Pretty great stuff.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
MELISSA: I’m writing the third book in the Isle of the Lost series, and I have several book and television projects that have not been announced yet that I’m working hard on.
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
MELISSA: When Jasmine and Royce reconcile, that argument/discussion in the car is based on real conversations/arguments I’ve had with my husband. I really dug deep for that one. I was emotionally exhausted after writing it at .
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
MELISSA: Trouble? I always have a harder time connecting with my main character rather than my hero. Royce was very real to me, but it was harder to get into Jasmine’s head or really understand her as a real person. But I also had the same trouble with Schuyler Van Alen. Both of them have so much of me that it’s painful to really get in there. Whereas Royce and Jack were very easy to write.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
MELISSA: Revising. I love revising, getting it right, chiseling. I love the end stage of book writing.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
MELISSA: Multi-tasking and being prolific. Isn’t it obvious? :)
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
MELISSA: Yallfest and Yallwest, two book festivals that I help organize. Also Facing History, which teaches a tolerance-based curriculum to millions of school children.
Meet Melissa de la Cruz!
Melissa de la Cruz is the #1 New York Times, #1 Publishers Weekly and #1 IndieBound bestselling author of Isle of the Lost and Return to the Isle of the Lost as well as many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for readers of all ages. Her books have also topped the USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times bestseller lists and have been published in more than twenty countries.
A former fashion and beauty editor, Melissa has written for the New York Times, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, the San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and Fox News.
Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from the Convent of the Sacred Heart. At Columbia University, she majored in art history and English. Today she lives in Los Angeles and Palm Springs with her husband and daughter.
Meet Something in Between!
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz (The Isle of the Lost, Return to the Isle of the Lost) comes the launch title of Seventeen Fiction from Harlequin Teen, Something in Between. Don't miss this timely and powerful novel that Seventeen Magazine editor-in-chief Michelle Tan says "has everything—a strong heroine, important issues and a really cute crush. I'm obsessed—and you will be too," and Rachel Cohn, the NYT bestselling co-author of Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, calls "a great read!"
Jasmine de los Santos has always done what's expected of her. Pretty and popular, she's studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship.
And then everything shatters. A national scholar award invitation compels her parents to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all and the very real threat of deportation
For the first time, Jasmine rebels, trying all those teen things she never had time for in the past. Even as she's trying to make sense of her new world, it's turned upside down by Royce Blakely, the charming son of a high-ranking congressman. Jasmine no longer has any idea where—or if—she fits into the American Dream. All she knows is that she's not giving up. Because when the rules you lived by no longer apply, the only thing to do is make up your own.
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Chapter One: Bye, Bye Miss American Pie
First you have to hollow out. Suck your belly button back against your spine. Pull up toward your rib cage. Keep eye contact. Don’t hold your breath. Feel your muscles tighten. Make yourself compact. Lift up. Fly. Attitude is everything. Believe you can do that stunt. Stay tight. Smile. Keep everything together as you’re twisting through the air. Trust yourself. Trust your team. Let self-doubt creep in and you’ll fall—even worse, you’ll let down the whole squad, and that’s the worst thing you can do as cheer captain, except bossing everyone around like a whiny queen bee.
There’s no one more intense than a cheerleader. According to every Hollywood movie ever made, we’re a bunch of ditzy boy-crazy backstabbers. As if.
Don’t they get it? Cheerleaders are part of a team, and a good team trusts each other. The only thing stopping you from cracking your head open on the gym floor are your teammates.
Cheer makes you tough. Loyal.
There’s nothing more All-American than a cheerleader and I might have been born in the Philippines but if you look up hotdogs, mom and Apple Pie, you might see my face right next to it.
As far as I’m concerned, I’m just as American as Barack Obama. He spent his formative years in Asia too.
“Hit. Hit. Hit. Pull!” Coach Davis shouts, her voice echoing against the gym walls. We jump three times in a row, extending our arms and legs into perfect toe touches, then tuck, flipping backwards onto the mats.
Everyone sticks the tuck except for Kayla. She’s been struggling with her tumbling even though she used to be one of the best tumblers on the team. Her mind has been somewhere else for a while, probably on her older brother, Jackson, who was wounded by an explosion on foot patrol somewhere outside of Baghdad and just moved back home. We haven’t talked much lately because I’ve been so busy with heading up studying for midterms and planning prom. I feel bad about not making time for her even though she’s my best friend on the team. I try to make a mental note to ask her how she’s doing after practice, maybe offer to help her brush up on some moves before she gets put on probation or kicked all the way off the squad.
“Keep your feet together, Santos,” Coach barks at me. “They’re wobbling on your landing.”
I dip my chin down toward my chest a little, acknowledging her suggestion. I’m annoyed she doesn’t even say anything to Kayla, but I know she’s bringing me down a notch on purpose. She doesn’t want me to end up with an oversized ego. If she doesn’t criticize me, the other girls will think she’s playing favorites. That’s why I got voted Captain in the first place—I know you have to sacrifice yourself for the team, for the stunt, for nothing less than perfection.
Sometimes the other girls tease me, “You’re so perfect, Jaz. You do everything right. Student body president. Cheer captain. Honor Roll. Don’t you ever get tired?”
I’m always tired, but as Mommy says, “No excuses, Jasmine. No complaining. You have so many more opportunities than I did as a girl. Make use of them. Even your curves. Just don’t let the boys touch or they’ll see my knife.” She always says that with a straight face while she’s holding a big kitchen cleaver.
We moved from Manila to Los Angeles when I was only five years old. There are five of us: Mommy, Daddy, Danilo, Isko, and me—Jasmine. I’m the oldest, and the only daughter, which means I have to work even harder than my younger brothers to set an example for them. My parents push me as far as I can go then push even harder—you’ve heard about Tiger Mom right? Well I have two of those—Tiger Parents, and I’m their little tiger cub.
People at school don’t know I’m an immigrant, they just assume with my American accent I’m just like everybody else, and I don’t bother to correct them. Not that I’m ashamed of it, mostly I’m just like every other teenager—I just want to fit in. And I don’t want people to praise me for being more successful or blame me for taking up their space.
I’m just like any other American girl, but with parents who will barely let me talk to a boy without a chaperone yet expect me to get married by the time I’m twenty-five. #GetReal. Yeah, they’re pretty traditional. When I graduated from middle school, it was a miracle they let me trade folk dancing for cheerleading. I don’t even dare attempt to ask them to actually let me date—god forbid—a real live boy. My mother would probably threaten any boy I brought home with a knife. #NotKidding
I don’t really mind though. I have big dreams. And I plan to make them happen. So I do what cheer taught me to do when you’re at the top: Hold your head up. Smile at the audience. Be fierce. Work hard. Land the stunt. Use your sweat to outshine them all.
“Let’s run through the routine until the end of practice,” Coach says. She walks over to the sound-system to start the music.
Most of the girls start taking their positions, but Emily just crosses her arms. “I’m exhausted. I don’t know if I can do anymore.”
“Don’t be a drama queen,” Keandra says. “You’re only tired because you stayed up texting Brandon all night.”
“He likes my texts.” She winks at Keandra. “Creative emojis.” I step up to the girls, hush their conversation. “Positions!” Coach nods and I count down to begin the routine.
“Five, six, seven, eight!” Music blasts from the speakers.
Our routine begins with high intensity tumbling. We sprint across the mats, propelling our bodies through the air, hitting our handsprings, layouts, and tucks right on the beat. The girls are getting even more pumped as they get into formation for the flyer stunts. I step up onto my bases, let them propel me up into a barrel roll, and fall back into their cradle. The stunts are getting more and more complex and one of our flyers loses her balance during a dismount on a pyramid, smacking against her back spotter and sending her to the ground. The bases help the spotter back up. Coach stops the music.
I ignore the groaning and complaining. “We got this girls,” I shout. “Again from the beginning!”
We practice our routine over and over until all of the flyers are hitting their stunts. Our muscles ache and our arms are slick with sweat, but the better we get the more pumped we are so by the end of practice everyone is cheering louder, staying tighter, and flying higher. We’re about to go through our last run when Mrs. Garcia pushes through the swing doors and powerwalks toward us. Her heels thump against the wood floors. We look at each other nervously. What’s the guidance counselor doing at cheer practice?
Coach says, “Ladies! Listen up. I want you to pair up and practice your backbend kickovers. Spot for each other. Start slow. Keep them controlled.”
As she walks over to Mrs. Garcia, I pair up with Kayla and help her slowly ease into a backbend. She tries to kick up with her foot, but she can’t catch the momentum so I help guide her through the move.
After a couple minutes, Coach calls out for me. “Jasmine. Mrs. Garcia needs a word with you.”
Me? My mind is wrapped up in cheering but now I’ve lost focus. I wonder if I’m in trouble. Uncertainty creeps into my stomach. I help Kayla stand back up and walk over to Mrs. Garcia, trying not to look worried. Coach winks at me as she passes by on her way back to the group.
That’s when I realize this is something good. Something she’s proud of. My worry disappears.
“I have something special for you,” Mrs. Garcia says. She’s holding an envelope between her fingers. She hands the envelope over to me then folds her arms over each other, waiting for me to open the letter.
I study the envelope. It’s addressed to me, Jasmine de los Santos. There’s no home address underneath. In the left hand corner, there’s a fancy logo printed in official navy blue ink: United States National Scholars Program, Department of Education. I instantly feel excited. My future has arrived. The one I’ve worked so hard for. The one my parents have dreamed of ever since they moved here.
“I’m so proud of you,” Mrs. Garcia says as she puts her hand on my shoulder. “I know you’ve worked really hard for the past four years.”
I tear the envelope open, nearly ripping the letter apart.
As I unfold the letter, my eyes drift to the signature at the bottom. It’s actually signed—not printed—by the President of the United States. I return to the top and begin reading the body of the letter:
Dear Ms. de los Santos,
I am pleased to offer you a National Scholarship Award in recognition of your outstanding academic achievement. Only 120 students out of thousands of highly qualified applicants are offered these scholarships per year—one female and one male student are chosen for each state, making the scholarship the most competitive in the nation. You are now in the company of astonishing young people, people who by the ages of sixteen and seventeen have not only succeeded academically, but have conducted innovative medical research, played with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, competed in the Olympics, launched their own companies, volunteered for international social service organizations, and more.
National Scholars go on to attend our nation’s top universities and use their gifts to improve both our country and the world.
You’re invited to attend the National Recognition Program, which will take place the summer after graduation, to receive your award and meet with government officials, educators, musicians, scientists, businessmen, and past scholars. You will also have the opportunity to visit historic museums and monuments and attend recitals, receptions, and official ceremonies as guests of the Department of Education. Please complete and return the grant form included with this letter. Additional details about the trip to Washington, DC will be sent within the following weeks. Congratulations! I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ll do to make a brighter future for our country.
The President of the United States
I fold the paper carefully. It’s the happiest day of my entire life. Everything I’ve given up—the hours of sleep, the driver’s license (because my parents wouldn’t let me drive myself anywhere anyway), all the parties I never attended, all the fun I never had, all the boys I would have had to save from my mother’s kitchen knives.
Nothing compares to this scholarship.
“This is a huge deal, Jasmine. There hasn’t been a National Scholar from Canyon Hills as long as I’ve been here. It’s the greatest honor a student can be awarded. I would be shocked if you didn’t get a full ride because of this award.”
A full ride to any college of my choice.
It almost takes my breath away. I can see my future so clearly.
Stanford University. Harvard Business School. The start-up I’ll put together with
my three roommates. The first round of funding. Going public. The handsome husband and the two perfect kids. The big house in the tasteful, classy suburbs. Atherton, if in Silicon Valley. Hidden Hills, if I stay in Los Angeles. Greenwich, if I move to the East Coast.
Winning at the meritocracy is the American Dream and it’s mine. Talk about #squadgoals.
I worked hard for it, gave everything up. Some of my friends tease that I’m sixteen going on thirty-five. But it doesn’t matter now. What’s for certain is that I’m not going to be stuck cleaning vomit in a hospital like my mom or driving a bus like my dad.
The exhilaration is almost as good, if not better—as sticking a killer landing at Nationals.
Something in Between
By: Melissa de la Cruz
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Two winners will receive a copy of Something in Between (US only).
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I am so very pleased that someone is finally writing stories that so many immigrant teens can relate to. Far, far too many YA books are written by white authors about white protagonists. I'm so tickled that this story, written by a well-respected author, will reach so many readers.
I have been so excited for this book since I heard about it! The cover's bright colors really draw you in and grab attention!
I read a sample of this before and it's just so beautiful! being a filipino immigrant myself, this will bring me so much feels and I'm definitely looking forward to reading this so bad!
The cover is pretty, I like the colors and flowers. The synopsis is interesting. I have liked other books by the author and I am excited for this one..