De La Cruz, Melissa. Something in Between.
2016. Harlequin Teen
Jasmine de Los Santos has everything. She’s the captain of a nationally acclaimed cheer-leading team, valedictorian, and popular. She’s been selected for the National Scholars Award. However, as she prepares to accept the award an alarming secret about her family is revealed. Her wonderful and supportive Filipino parents are illegal immigrants. She can’t even think about accepting her prestigious award and admission to Stanford University. Every day she worries about them being found out and deported. She can’t trust anyone, not even her friends or boyfriend. Royce is the son of a politician who supports deportation and strict immigration policies. Jasmine feels lost. She thought that her family had abided by the rules. They were living the “American Dream”, right? Jasmine struggles with her new reality. What are her views, and how does she find where she truly belongs?
Melissa de la Cruz tackles a major issue in today’s society in this novel. Illegal immigration is very controversial. Jasmine’s friendships, relationship, and fears of deportation ring true. De La Cruz has done a realistic portrayal of an immigrant struggle. The story is told from Jasmine’s point of view. She narrates with mostly authentic teen language and perspective. She starts off as the perfect girl, but other students envy success. She seems to be good at everything. At the start of the novel, Jasmine is a pretty one dimensional character. She think her life will go just as she has planned. This sort of attitude affects her relationship with her boyfriend. As the reader moves through the novel Jasmine’s personality changes. She rebels by doing what most teenagers might do. She drinks alcohol, parties, and risks getting busted by the police. However, through each new experience she realizes that life isn’t perfect. It’s about getting through hardships and tough situations. She discovers that many people in her life are willing to support her.
Jasmine’s relationship with her parents is something many immigrants and non-immigrants can relate to. From the beginning she feels angry and confused as to why her parents continued to stay with expired visas. She eventually comes to terms with their decision and realizes everything they have sacrificed for her. Arguments with her family about Royce happen often, but ultimately they are a close-knit family ready to support each other.
Jasmin’s relationship with Royce proves to be a heartwarming, but begins unrealistically. Their first meeting is clichéd, and their dialogue is stilted. They have childish arguments throughout the book. Eventually their maturity comes out, and they become a strong couple. This is a stand-alone novel. The reader will enjoy facing struggles with Jasmine, and will ultimately support and root for her.
“De la Cruz presents a timely and thought-provoking look at the complex reality of being young and undocumented in the United States…Readers will root for Jasmine as she fights for her future and finds the power of her own voice.”-Publishers Weekly
“An immigrant herself, de la Cruz, succeeds in presenting a complicated and multifaceted topic in a manner that is light enough to keep readers engaged.”-Kirkus Reviews
A reading group or book club would have much to discuss in this book. What they would do if they found out their parents were illegal immigrants? Would they have rebelled like Jasmine, or stayed the same? Would they have risked others finding out their identity by going to receive the National Scholar Award in a different state, or rejected the trip? Would they go back to their country of origin, and start over? Could you trust your friends? What are your views on immigration, and have they changed since reading the book?
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Reviewed by Henna T. (Guest Teen Reviewer)