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October 10, 2020

Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

If you are looking for a young adult "own voice" story about immigration, then you should read Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz.
Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Something in Between
June 2017; Harlequin Teen; 978-0373212453
audio, ebook, print (432 pages); YA romance
This book was published a few years ago and is set during the Obama administration. Jasmine is a senior in high school. She has done everything right her whole life - she's as close to perfect as humanely possible and all her hard work is about to pay off. Her cheerleading squad is looking good for the national championship, she's likely to be valedictorian and then the biggest news of her academic career arrives - she was been named a National Scholar. She knows the only way to college is with a scholarship and this prestigious award ensures she can go to any university of her dreams. What makes this all so much more special is that her family are Filippino immigrants. Her parents came to the U.S. to improve the lives of their entire family. So this accomplishment is not just Jasmine's but her whole family's. So why aren't her parents more excited?

As an adult reading this young adult story, I felt that it was pretty predictable. Jasmine's family is undocumented. They came to the U.S. on legal work visas sponsored by another family member but when that business goes under they are unable to find another sponsor. Instead of uprooting their children again by returning to the Phillippines, they remain in the U.S. after their visas expire. They find jobs, either with fake papers or with no papers, and their children continue to live their lives blissfully unaware. Until proof of permanent residency or citizenship is needed for Jasmine to accept her scholarship. 

Their family drama is framed by the national drama of immigration reform. A bill is before Congress to provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

This is a teen novel from a Harlequin imprint, so of course, there is romance. Jasmine falls in love with the son of a conservative Congressman. He is her first boyfriend, her first kiss, but his father is leading the charge against the immigration bill that would solve all of Jasmine's problems. I found it refreshing that the novel wasn't overly sexual. Sure they make out but it isn't described in hot and heavy terms, more like what girl would tell a friend afterward. They also don't have sex. 

It was a very clean read which kept the main message about immigration from being lost in any steaminess.

While not autobiographical, de la Cruz did draw on her own experiences as a child immigrant. The characters are sympathetic and you can't help root for them. I work with a lot of immigrants, and after seeing the expense, paperwork, and hoops they have to go through to live and work in this country, I'm super grateful that I was born here. If you or your teens don't have many opportunities to interact with immigrants (documented or undocumented), then Something in Between will give you a look into what life is like for them.

Buy Something in Between at Amazon

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Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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