Featured Review: Something In Between (Melissa De La Cruz)
About This Book:
It feels like there’s no ground beneath me, like everything I’ve ever done has been a lie. Like I’m breaking apart, shattering. Who am I? Where do I belong?
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.
**Review Contributed by Kim Baccellia, Staff Reviewer**
Something in Between
What worked: This novel nails the fear and struggles of an undocumented teen during her senior year of high school. The voice is authentic and rang true.
This book brought back memories I had as a bilingual teacher in a school district close to East LA during the 90s. During the English Only movement, I heard more than a few of my students fearing that the Migra-immigration police- would come and send them back to Mexico. Cruz shows the fear that an undocumented teen has when she finds out she'd not a citizen.
Jasmine studies hard and is a National Scholar. When she finds out she's won that prestigious award, her parents tell her the 'truth'. The disbelief turns to anger and then embarrassment. Cruz nails this too. The current political climate stand against immigrants only fuels the fear an undocumented citizen faces daily. **Kuddos to Cruz for also using the word undocumented and not 'illegal' alien. I personally hate that term as no-one is from a different planet.
The romance between Jasmine and Royce shows the conflict she feels in sharing her 'secret' especially when his father is behind a bill to deport immigrants. There's lots of feels that go on between these two. She struggles with being faithful to her family that faces deportation if it gets out that they aren't in the country legally with her feelings toward Royce. I liked how readers go on a journey with these two as they come to terms with their feelings.
At the end of the book is a note on undocumented minors and the 'Dream Act'. I feel it's so important to give these children and teens a name and voice. Cruz mentions how Jasmine's plight was very similar to her own when she was a teen. This adds to the authenticity of the story.
A teen's struggle and fear with the recent news of being undocumented told in a real, authentic voice. I highly recommend this book to be included in libraries and high schools as it shows the human side of immigration.