What worked: The bittersweet at times love story between these two is believable and realistic. I love how Marquardt didn't sugar coat or manipulate readers with stereotypes or cliches. Alma's family life is portrayed in a realistic light. She doesn't fit the stereotype at all. Her family is tight and look out for each other. Alma is smart but being undocumented holds her back from her dreams of going to the university and getting out of the small Georgia town.
Evan doesn't come across as being arrogant like some of his soccer buddies. There were a few times though, when some racist comments are flung towards undocumented workers, and he doesn't speak up that did bug me. He does redeem himself later on though by standing at Alma's side even when his family totally disapproves.
Their backgrounds are totally different. I like that Alma is a strong protagonist that doesn't settle for anything less. There are lots of portrayals of what undocumented families deal with daily. The fear of being round up by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is very real. I saw this when back in the 90s when there was an English only proposal on California ballots. My student's parents told me they were afraid that the ICE would come into my classroom and take their children away. There also are scenes of families being broken apart and send back to Mexico.
Huge kuddos for the twist at the end. Alma arcs as a character when she finds the strength she needs to confront her own fears.
Bittersweet glimpse into the lives of a couple from two different worlds and how love might be able to crack through the hatred thrown their way. An important read right now especially in light of recent political rhetoric that targets undocumented immigrants.
2. Authentic voice
3. Forbidden love set in the South during movement to sent all undocumented immigrants back to Mexico.