Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Something in Between

I promise this is the last book review for the week, but I have a couple more almost ready to go for next week! If you are doing any early Christmas shopping for readers in your life, start taking notes because there are a bunch of great books coming out this fall that will make great gifts.

Something in Between - Melissa De La Cruz

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. 

I think if there is ever a group of authors that write about real life topics in a timely fashion, it's YA authors, hands down. Maybe they are just more apt at cranking out books at a faster pace, but it always seems like if there is an issue in the news, you can almost always find a relatively new YA book that touches on the subject and maybe gives high school kids a perspective of an issue that they could relate to. Which is why I'm recommending this one as a good book for any teenager for Christmas. The book itself is about Jasmine, being the all-American kid and I think every teenage girl will be able to relate to her, but the book also is about immigration and what lengths people will go to be here, and what the ramifications can be in the long run.

So we have Jasmine, she's a high school girl working her tail off to get a scholarship to a really stellar school. Her parents push her to excel but she pushes herself even more. She's the top of her class, she's the best in her extra-curricular activities, she's well liked and basically has it all going for her. Until she finds out that not only does her family's visas no longer exist, and they are basically illegals, she learns that deportation is a very real (and scary) thing and that her carefully planned out future is basically stopped dead in its tracks. But it's made all the more complicated because of Royce, who is the son of a Congressman who is actively trying to deport illegals. It's like a modern day Romeo & Juliet but instead of stabbings, we have people being sent back to Mexico. Their relationship is very PG and kind of cute, so the YA aspect of this plays in there.

I basically adored this book because I really liked Jasmine's character. It isn't very often that we have a strong, educated, determined and driven female as a lead in a YA book. Sure, we have strong females but they all seem to be challenging the system, not caring what others thought, "quirky", and not that those are bad things or that we shouldn't celebrate girls who ask questions, but sometimes it's really nice to celebrate the girls who don't, too. (Which makes me sound super anti-feminist, doesn't it? I should kind of old school, middle aged man right now.) Not every girl is going to change the world and it's nice to see a character who is trying to better herself and not necessarily worrying about everyone else around her. (Don't hurt me, feminists, I'm not a jerk, I swear!)

Something in Between comes out later this month, but you can pre-order it on Amazon right now. Honestly, it would be a good book for any teen and then ask them what they thing about people who lived here for so long, holding jobs, going to school, being good citizens and then potentially being sent back to a country that doesn't have the same opportunities as we do here. Their perspective might be eye opening, for sure. In the meantime, keep up with Melissa De La Cruz on Twitter and her website!

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